Keith James (‘Bluey’) Ellis
‘Bluey’ Ellis was a fiery, red-headed, barrel-chested prop forward who played two seasons of international rugby in the late 1950s. Hard and tough, Ellis was described as resolute, determined, never discouraged and inspirational in his efforts to win the ball.
Born in Coraki, Ellis grew up in the Lismore area before he moved to Sydney as a teenager in search of work. In 1951 he joined Manly after three years in the lower grades with Drummoyne and proceeded to establish a Marlins’ club record of 185 first grade appearances, which was subsequently passed by the great Tony Miller (Wallaby #393).
Ellis had his first taste of representative rugby in 1956 when he debuted for New South Wales against Queensland at the Exhibition Ground.
In 1958 four incumbent prop forwards from the recent home series against the Maori - Bill McLaughlin (not selected), Kerry Larkin, ‘Slaggy’ Miller and Geoff Vaughan (each unavailable) - did not tour to New Zealand and Ellis was chosen for his first Wallaby tour.
He was then selected to make his Test debut alongside fellow Manly debutant Peter Dunn in Wellington. Despite the baptism of fire, Ellis more than held his own, proved he was ‘of top international standard’ and played in all three Tests of the series.
The following year Ellis started against the Lions however Australia did not play any Test rugby in 1960 and in 1961 Miller, Jon White and John Thornett began their multi-year domination of the Wallaby front row selection.
Keith Ellis played five Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.
Ellis won his first Test cap at prop alongside Ron Meadows and Peter Dunn in the 1st Test, 3-25 loss to New Zealand at Athletic Park. That frontrow started in the both of the final two Tests in that series.
Ellis and Dunn propped Peter Johnson in both home losses to the British Lions.