Dubbo junior Kaide Ellis to lead Penrith Panthers from the front in NSW Intrust Super Premiership finals

BIG GAME PLAYER: Kaide Ellis has plenty of finals experience and he wants to use all that when he runs out with the Panthers on Saturday. Photo: PENRITH PANTHERS
BIG GAME PLAYER: Kaide Ellis has plenty of finals experience and he wants to use all that when he runs out with the Panthers on Saturday. Photo: PENRITH PANTHERS

It was painful to be dropped from the NRL side midway through this year but rather than feel sorry for himself and be upset with the Penrith Panthers, who wants to make his presence felt in the NSW intrust Super Premiership finals series.

Ellis made his NRL debut in round six this year and played in the top grade a further five times before returning to the Panthers’ reserve grade side.

The Dubbo product had been warned many players who drop back risk fading right out of contention due to poor attitude, but Ellis is eager to instead lead the Panthers to grand final glory.

The Penrith outfit takes on the Canterbury Bulldogs in Saturday’s qualifying final, with Ellis to be a key figure up front.

“You’re disappointed to be told you’re not going to be first grade after a couple of games but I spoke to the coaches and they said you can’t come back and kick stones,” he told NSWRL.com earlier this week.

“That’s where a lot go wrong and it hurts them more than they think but I’ve just tried to lead and use my experience and what I’ve learnt and help my own performance go up so I can be a standout NRL player in reserve grade.”

I’ve just tried to lead and use my experience and what I’ve learnt and help my own performance go up.

Kaide Ellis

The clash with the Bulldogs is expected to be a physical and bruising encounter, meaning Ellis’ own performances up front could go a long way to deciding the match.

But he’s not a one-man band, with the Panthers proving themselves a force once again in the reserve grade competition this season.

The defending premiers earned 38 points throughout the regular season to finish in top spot and they have also defeated the Bulldogs in the two prior meetings this year.

However, the Bulldogs are boosted by the return of a number of key figures this weekend.

Lachlan Lewis, Rhyse Martin, Ofahiki Ogden and Reimis Smith will bring with them recent first-grade experience when they run out against the Panthers, but Ellis wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Everyone is pretty keen to get going and you always find another gear in finals. It’s pretty exciting,” Ellis said, before speaking about what expects on Saturday.

“It’s going to be won with our defence. They’re a strong side and always our toughest game, I find that every year anyway, so I think it’s going to be very close. It’s just going to be a bash.”

Saturday’s qualifying semi-final kicks off at 1.10pm at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.

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