It’s been a year of ups and downs, but Penrith Panthers prop Kaide Ellis capped it with the biggest honour of his career to date.
Ellis, who is yet to taste NRL or representative football, was awarded Man of the Match after the Panthers’ dominant 42-18 win over the PNG Hunters on Sunday. Played in front of a building crowd ahead of the NRL Grand Final, the whole experience was a memorable one for the 21-year-old.
“You only ever get the chance to win once a year and to win two in a year is massive,” Ellis tells NSWRL.com.au. “We worked hard all year and it’s an unbelievable feeling.
“I didn’t expect [the Man of the Match award]. I thought there was a few people in front of me but I just tried to outwork PNG and it obviously paid off, so I’m pretty happy with myself.
“All game you could hear the Penrith fans – and especially the PNG supporters, they’re very passionate. Very different experience for me, most people I’ve ever played in front of.”
Season 2017 has seen a shift for Ellis from the second row to the front row – and while he admits he’s struggled to find consistency throughout the year, he’s happy it ended on a high.
“It’s been a bit up and down, I’d like to find a bit more consistency next year,” Ellis says. “Obviously a position change this year into the front row so I had to adapt to the physicality of it and just try and learn off the older boys.”