Despite the time-old adage suggesting otherwise, it turns out a Tiger can change its stripes.
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After a number of successful years with the Trangie Tigers which included a premiership win in 2016, former NSW and Queensland Country prop John Ellis has linked with reigning New Holland Agriculture Cup champions Narromine the upcoming season, which is looming large.
Ellis, also a former Orange Emus bookend, said he "absolutely loved" his time at the Tigers but after moving to Narromine linking with the Gorillas made sense in terms of travel, and the lift in standard to Central West Rugby Union's second tier was somewhat of a factor too.
The bullocking front-rower wouldn't have been able to don the black and gold again if he wanted to anyway, with the Tigers sadly forced to withdraw from the Oilsplus Cup Northern Division this week due to a lack of numbers.
"It is sad Trangie won't have a side this year, everyone's very passionate out there and I absolutely loved my time with the Tigers," Ellis said.
"I'm working in Dubbo now and we moved from the other side of Trangie to Narromine just before Christmas and [Cale Oval's] only 10 kilometres away so it make sense to play there, it will be that little bit more competitive too in the [New Holland Agriculture Cup].
"I'm really looking forward to it, it's something different so it should be good."
With veterans Keith Maher and Charlie Tuck propping up their scrum the Gorillas' set-piece was formidable in 2018 and a huge reason the side ended the year as undefeated premiers, although they were forced to come-from-behind to win the grand final against Parkes.
Considering Ellis' history he'll also add to that power through the pack and, naturally, he said the side's goal will be to defend that title.
A massive factor for the former Cockatoo and Heeler is the fact he's fit too, Ellis has had no shortage of injuries in his time but says he's feeling good ahead of the opening round.
So good the thought of a return to the representative scene has crossed his mind too. Ellis last played for Central West in 2016's NSW Country Rugby Union Richardson Shield win, and picked up a Cockatoos spot that year too.
"Another premiership is the ultimate goal and it's a pretty good group to come into, I played a lot of rugby against Narromine back in their Blowes (Clothing) Cup glory days and it's nice there's a few faces from back then still running around that I know," Ellis said.
"But I think another big thing for the club is just making sure we've got enough blokes on hand to fill out first and second grade sides again.
"The body is feeling pretty good and I do think about playing for Central West again every time someone brings it up.
"That's all under way already this year though so I don't think it'll be on the cards [in 2019] but if I stay fit enough next off-season, well, who knows."
Ellis' recruitment is just one exciting development for the Gorillas heading into 2019 too, for the first time in many moons the club will field a side in Central West Rugby Union's revamped colts competition and a Westfund Ferguson Cup outfit too.
The Gorillas' colts will open the new competition next Friday night too, their clash against Emus will be the first of an exciting double-header at Pride Park, which will be followed by Orange City taking on another returning club in Dubbo Rhinos.
Ellis said from what he's seen and heard the Narromine group will be "pretty bloody strong" too, a prediction backed up by the fact the Gorillas were simply dominant in winning the last two Central West Junior Rugby Union under-17 titles.
"Narromine hasn't had a side in either of those competitions for a while so that's pretty big news for the club," Ellis said, before saying acting as somewhat of a mentor to the side's front-rowers would be something he'd happily do if asked.
"That's how I learned, from an older player taking me under his wing and teaching me a few things. Once you learn a few tricks and that kind of thing it makes a big difference so absolutely, if there's any young blokes there I can help out I definitely will."
Narromine faces the Mudgee Wombats at Cale Oval in the opening round of their title defence on Saturday, April 6. The Gorillas' Westfund Ferguson Cup team also takes on the Wombats that day.
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