Wallaby great Mark Ellu had to be convinced to make his name part of a new trophy to be played by Australia and England from Saturday week, but he says it’s an honor and “probably time” that the two former players have been recognized.

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Rugby Australia [RA] and Rugby Football Union [RFU] on Friday confirmed existing reports that the Cooke Cup would be replaced by the Ella-Mobbs Cup and the former test flight midfielder would be honored alongside Englishman Edgar Mobbs, who played in the very first international rugby match between the two nations in 1909 and later was killed in the First World War.

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The decision to replace the Cook’s Cup, for which the two countries had been in dispute since the game became professional in 1996, drew criticism in some quarters.

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But Ella says that while he personally never resented the trophy named after a colonial explorer, he agreed it was time to compete against more suitable rugby characters.

“It means a lot to me and my family,” Ella told reporters in the middle of the Coogee Oval, where he and his brothers Glen and Gary were rampaging for Sydney club Randwick. “Obviously I have a very handsome twin brother and younger brother and we played a lot of rugby here and it meant a lot to us over the years.

“It is a great honor for me that the Cup now belongs to me or, probably, to our name – this is a great honor.

“I understand the connotations [of the Cook Cup] and it certainly didn’t upset me. But to be honest, it’s been a long time, 25 years, and now it’s probably time to acknowledge the rivalry between the RFU and Rugby Australia and what it means. And the involvement of two former players in the new Ella-Mobbs Cup roster, I think should be the way it should be.”

While the trophy is still being finalized before being unveiled ahead of the first trial in Perth next week, Ella revealed one small feature of the new silverware designed by his niece Natalie.

“Natalie is a pretty good artist and she knows what we need, [but] I made a couple of suggestions about the mullet,” Ella explained. “It might sound funny to a lot of people, but my dad fished for mullet, and we fished for mullet all summer long, and Glen and Gary again played a big role in this.

“When you come from a family of 12, you really have nothing to talk about or argue about when food is placed in front of you. So we had baked mullet, peeled mullet, mullet soup—everything you could eat from mullet. it was the way it was.

“And to this day there are [still] two people who call me “mullet” are David Campese and Wally Lewis. They’re the only ones who call me a mullet, so it dragged on.”

With only a week to go until the first Test, anticipation for what is a hugely important series for both sides, especially for the Wallabies who haven’t beaten England since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, is building.

At the helm of England in all eight of those victories was Australian Eddie Jones, who was already trying to take the pressure off his touring team by crushing “aggressive” local fans and the media.

Ella knows Jones’ tricks all too well.

“Maybe I’ll see Eddie in Perth before the first Test match, we’ve known each other since we were three years old,” Ella said. “We made a kindergarten, an elementary school, a high school [together]; I know my twin brother Glen and Eddie are dumb as thieves and we’ll have a little laugh and laugh when I catch up with him.

“Beaver [Jones]obviously, playing with him on this field, he always had a sharp tongue, and he did not hesitate to tell the referee or opponents what he thought of them, and we had a lot of fun shooting at each other.

“I better not talk too much, he might get shit with me.”

While there are no Indigenous players on Dave Rennie’s current roster, Ella is hopeful that this latest move from RA, which follows the creation of the Wallaby Indigenous jersey and the Eora national anthem in 2020, will continue to inspire young Indigenous players. nations will pick up the game and follow in the footsteps of him, his brothers and, most recently, Curtley Beal.

“I think it should be both, I can’t just say ‘Mark Ella deserved it’,” Ella said when asked if the trophy was a recognition of his heritage or a representation of Indigenous peoples in general.

“Actually, I’m probably representing Indigenous, obviously we’ve had a lot of Indigenous players over the years, the last one being Kurtley Beal. We are proud of what we have achieved in rugby and look forward to much more to come.

“They are [Rugby Australia] do their best; again, like in other sports, it’s not easy. But as long as they do not lose hope and believe that there is talent both there and there. [are] opportunities they will keep trying.”