FORMER Wests Tigers star Gareth Ellis didn’t even make it to kick-off in his Super League return, with fears a broken foot suffered in the warm-up before a loss to Leeds last night will rule out the Hull captain for up to six months.
And Gold Coast youngster Joe Vickery’s hopes of a rags-to-riches World Club Challenge appearance against Melbourne appear to have been cruelled by a broken foot suffered in the 36-6 victory by his Leeds side at Headlingley.
Ellis, 31, was the biggest-name signing in Super League this season after returning from a successful four-year stint with Wests Tigers but is understood to have broken the left foot containing a steel rod that sidelined him for three months last year.
“I’m not going to guess what he’s done,” said coach Peter Gentle. “He’ll have scans and x-rays .
“I was in the dressingroom and someone came and said ‘he’s hurt his foot’. We could have needled it and risked him but this early in the season … it was a big night for him, captaining the side and back here (at his former club).”
But it’s understood Ellis left Leeds last night convinced he had suffered a specific foot fracture which is as bad, if not worse, than the one which blighted his 2012 season and which could require an even longer lay-off.
Former Penrith forward Mitch Achurch shone on debut for Leeds and has his sights on the Storm in the February 22 WCC at the same venue –unlike his flatmate, Vickery.
“Unfortunately, he’s going to be a bit negative in the house for the next couple of days,” said Achurch. “He gets scans on Monday and hopefully it’s not as bad as they think.
“I’m not sure what they think it is but it looks bad and he’s in a bit of pain.
“Joe told me earlier today he was nervous … I forgot that this was his first grade debut altogther, he didn’t play first grade back in Australia. It was a big day for him, unfortunately it didn’t turn out for the best.”
Achurch says even though many Aussie fans haven’t heard of him, he’s earned the right to take on the Storm for the season’s first trophy.
“The last time I played Melbourne, for Penrith, we got beaten by 50 points,” the 23-year-old says. “I feel like I’m in a team now that can actually roll them.
“We’ve got to build some momentum now in the Super League competition and hopefully when they come over here, we can surprise them and give them a hiding as well.
“If we can beat the best team in the NRL, it means something good is going on in the Super League”
In the other game of opening night, Wigan lapped newly-saved Salford 42-0 at the Salford City Stadium.
LEEDS 36 (K Sinfield J Moon J Peacock C Clarkson D McGuire R Hall tries Sinfield 6 goals) bt HULL 6 (J Arundel try D Holdsworth goal) at Headingley. Referee: S Ganson. Crowd: 15,297.
Filed for: AAP
LEEDS: Zac Hardaker; Joe Vickery, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall; Kevin Sinfield (c), Danny McGuire; Carl Ablett, Brett Delaney, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Jamie Peacock, Rob Burrow, Ryan Bailey. Res: Chris Clarkson, Ian Kirke, Paul McShane, Mitch Achurch.
HULL: Shannon McDonnell; Jason Crooks, Joe Arundel, Kirk Yeaman, Tom Briscoe; Daniel Holdsworth, Brett Seymour; Joe Westerman, Richard Whiting, Andy Lynch, Danny Houghton, Jay Pits. Res: Paul Johnson, Mark O’Meley, Aaron Heremaia, Chris Green.