“IT’S pretty special, I’m over the moon.”
After being named in the Queensland Country squad last week, former Orange Emus and Central West Blue Bulls prop John Ellis’ jubilation was palpable.
Ellis was named in a 25-man Heelers squad to tour New Zealand at the end of the month after turning heads in the recent Queensland Country Championships.
Despite playing in a winless Central Queensland side, in his less favoured tighthead position, Ellis did enough to impress selectors throughout a gruelling selection process.
“I moved to tighthead when I got up here,” he said.
“It’s been going well, I’m actually playing league up here as well which helps my rugby game. I obviously did something right at the championships, it’s very exciting.
“There are so many different levels to go through up here, because there isn’t much rugby played in the Central Queensland region.”
Ellis moved to Queensland with his girlfriend last year and dominated the Waves Spring Cup after linking with the Bundaberg Turtles.
Ellis was then named in the Wide Bay Whales team to contest the Central Queensland Championships, before being selected for Central Queensland and finally Queensland Country.
“Playing for the Turtles is probably the same standard as [GrainCorp] Cup back home,” he explained.
“Wide Bay would be the equivalent of playing for Emus again. From there I got named in the Central Queensland side, and that is seriously tough rugby.
“I’m very keen to see what the next level brings.”
Incredibly, another Central West graduate joins him in the squad - former Emus lock Jason Welburn, who spent the bulk of his time in the Blowes Clothing Cup playing for CSU Bathurst, was also named.
“I remember playing against Albie (Welburn) when he was at CSU, but I never got to play with him at Emus,” Ellis said.
“He played for South Queensland I know, but I’ll definitely seek him out a bit when we get together.
“It’s pretty special to have two former Blowes (Clothing) Cup players, and two former Emus actually, playing for Queensland Country.”
The squad flies to New Zealand next Wednesday, June 25, and will play Ellesmere on Thursday, June 26 and North Otago on Sunday, June 29.