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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ellis set to leave Barrow Raiders

INSPIRATIONAL hooker Andy Ellis is set to leave Barrow Raiders just days after their Grand Final glory to pursue his Super League dream.

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DEAL DONE? Andy Ellis looks set to head to London with Harlequins

Chairman Des Johnston admitted last night there was a high probability he would lose one of his star players to Harlequins, but added he had yet to work his magic on the 24-year-old.

Championship Player-of-the-Year Ellis was with the rest of the triumphant Raiders squad last night, celebrating their 26-18 win over Halifax on Sunday with an all-day party in Barrow, while the club’s directors were at a civic reception at Barrow Town Hall.

He was due to talk to Johnston about his future today, but Harlequins chief executive Paul Blanchard has been reported nationally as saying a deal has been done to take the Hull-based star to the Twickenham Stoop.

Johnston said such a move did seem likely, but said nothing had been signed as yet by either party.

“Andy Ellis was quick to phone me and say that he had not signed anything,” said Johnston after the story appeared in League Express.

“But if they’re going to offer him double the money we can, then if he doesn’t go to Super League now he never will.

“It’s looking like he will go, but I haven’t worked my magic on him yet.”

Ellis had been linked with a move to Welsh Super League club Celtic Crusaders, but Quins chief Blanchard was quoted in League Express as saying: “We spoke to him relatively recently and moved quickly to seal the deal.

“We were conscious we needed to strengthen the squad in some crucial positions and hooker was one of them.”

Johnston was accepting that the chance to move to Harlequins and play a first-ever season in Super League could be too much for Ellis to resist.

The chairman – who is expected to unveil several more signings this week – said: “If that is his final decision – and we don’t know if it is yet – then I will shake his hand and wish him all the luck in the world.

“He’s coming to my home today and we will see where we are with everything.”

Ellis himself said after Sunday’s win in Warrington that this season had been the greatest of his career and that he intended to talk with Johnston as soon as ‘Mad Monday’ was over and done with.

“This has been the best season and the best moment of my career,” he said. “I moved to Barrow and three years on, here I am as player-of-the-year at the club of the year.

“I’ll let Des know on Tuesday or Wednesday, after Mad Monday.”

Johnston would not be drawn on further speculation that Brian Noble is to become the new Barrow coach after he confirmed his exit from Wigan following their play-off defeat to St Helens on Saturday.

The Craven Park chief confirmed he had known for several weeks the decision was coming from the Warriors, but when asked if he could be on his way to Furness, would only add: “Who knows?”

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