Time right for trophy name change: Ella

Scott BaileyAAP
The Cook Cup, in England's hands since 2016, has been renamed to honour two former players.
Camera IconThe Cook Cup, in England's hands since 2016, has been renamed to honour two former players. Credit: AAP

Mark Ella claims it was time for rugby to move away from Captain Cook and towards an on-field rivalry with England after the new trophy was named in the Indigenous great's honour.

Ella will feature as part of the Ella-Mobbs trophy when the three-Test series between Australia and England begins in Perth next Saturday, replacing the Cook Cup.

The Wallabies legend said he had not personally been offended by the previous name and reference to Cook, who has become an increasingly divisive figure in Australian history.

However he did think the change was required, but needed some persuading to lend his name to the trophy being designed by his his niece Natalie.

Ella remains among the Wallabies' all-time finest players, while Mobbs was a centre who scored on debut in the first Test between Australia and England in 1909 before dying in action during World War I.

"I understand the connotations (around Cook) and it certainly didn't upset me," Ella said.

"It has been around a long time. I think 25 years (since the Cook Cup was introduced).

"And I think now it is time to recognise the rivalry between the RFU and Rugby Australia and what it means.

"Having two former players as part of the Ella-Mobbs Cup, is the way it should be."

Ella watches little rugby now and has largely stayed out of the public eye since his shock retirement at age 25 in 1984.

He has no clear views on the man who should wear his old No.10 jersey in Perth, with James O'Connor, Quade Cooper and Noah Lolesio all battling for the five-eighth position.

Nor does he have any real thought on whether his old friend Eddie Jones should be welcomed back into the Australian Rugby fold next year when his time coaching England is up.

But Ella does want the new trophy Jones is coaching for England to keep from the Wallabies' grasp to represent not just he and his brothers Glen and Gary, but all Indigenous players.

"There is no way I could say Mark Ella deserved it," Ella said.

"I am representing the Indigenous population. We have had a number of Indigenous players over the years with the latest being Kurtley Beale.

"We're proud of what we have achieved within rugby and I'm hoping there is many more to come.

"It's not easy (to attract more Indigenous talent ahead of other sports). You have to invest in the next generation.

"There are a number of Indigenous players in private schools. You just have to believe it can be done and keep trying."

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