Likeable Norths centre Chevi Ellis admits the Devils took a “massive” risk in bringing him out of the rugby league wilderness for another shot at the big time.
Ellis says the Devils gambled for two reasons – he had walked away from the game a year earlier and he was not in the best shape.
“Who signs a 120kg centre?” Ellis said with a smile.
“Really. I was hardly in great shape and I hadn’t played for 12 months. But I felt like playing footy again so I came to the club wanting to see how I would go.”
During the pre-season, Ellis began shedding the 8kg from his frame that the Devils had asked, working sweet potato and brown rice into his diet.
And the 22-year-old rediscovered his passion for rugby league after a year working as an asbestos remover at his new base on the Gold Coast.
“I just needed a break from footy. I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore,” Ellis says.
“I had played at the Raiders and the Roosters and I had lost my enjoyment for the game. But I started to think late last year that I wanted to play again. I asked my old Roosters Under 20 coach (Adam Hartigan) where I should play and he told me to go straight to Rohan Smith.”
Smith had taken over at Norths in the off-season and his reputation coaxed several new faces to Bishop Park.
Ellis has thrived under Smith’s tutelage, grabbing two tries against Souths Logan in the Devils’ stirring win in round three.
The following week, Ellis went from the old block sheds of Davies Park into the luxury of Suncorp Stadium as the Devils fell to Wynnum Manly in a messy clash.
Ellis and his teammates hope to atone tomorrow night when Norths host the PNG Hunters at Bishop Park in a clash that will again show how far the Devils have come in the early stages of 2018.
“We’ve got a long way to go this season and I know I have a long way to go too,” Ellis said.
“But I’ve enjoyed it so far. The brotherhood here is out of control. I’ve just really enjoyed playing with these guys. It’s been special.”
When Ellis arrived at Bishop Park, he found he had a few things in common with his new teammates.
He had gone to the same school as John Palavi and Michael Sio in Auckland. He had known Calum Gahan when the pair was finishing school in Townsville.
It helped Ellis to adjust as he learned plenty of new faces. He was one of 11 Devils to debut among the 17-man squad that played in the opening clash of the season against Tweed Heads.
“This has been good so far and I want to keep developing my game,” Ellis says.
“I have read a lot about the history of Norths and it’s a privilege to play here. I didn’t realise what history the club had until I came here. There have been some great players at Norths over the years.”