The forward and his partner Robyn were expecting their first baby when the NRL competition was suspended. After two nurses at their local hospital tested positive for coronavirus, the couple packed their bags and headed to the Top End to be with Robyn’s family.
After isolating for a fortnight in Howard Springs, a tiny dot on the map about 30 kilometres south of Darwin, Elliott and Robyn eventually welcomed their first son, Lennox, last Tuesday week.
“Lennox was born Tuesday and I was ready to fly back on the Friday when Deano [coach Dean Pay] called me and told me to spend a few extra days with the family,” Elliott told The Sun-Herald.
“It was really nice of Deano. I thought he was ringing me to talk about training.
“But he was happy for me to stay. There were no flights out of Darwin on the weekends and they were only flying Wednesdays and Fridays, so I flew back on Wednesday.
“There’s been no footy in my hands or any teammates around me, but nine days is enough for me leading into our first game back [against Manly].”
Elliott’s sacrifice start now, as he endures at least the next month without Robyn and Lennox because the latter is too young to fly. A hit-and-run trip to see his loved ones is effectively impossible given he would be required to isolate in a Darwin hotel for a fortnight.
Off-contract Elliott’s young family will now be heavily factored in when negotiating a new deal for 2021 and beyond.
“This is my last year on my current deal,” Elliott said. “If the season had continued the way it did and we hadn’t had the break, I’d be in some serious contract negotiations about now. The unknown with the salary cap has put a hold on things.
“It’s not as easy as it once was when I was a young fella. I had the opportunity to leave before my last contract and there were some serious offers from Parramatta and the Warriors I weighed up.
“I stayed out of pure love for the club. I’ve been a Dogs supporter since I was four years old. I didn’t think it was time for me to leave.
“Now with a young family, the reality is I need to provide for them. It will be a mutual agreement with me, the club and my family. The priority is to stay where I’m at.”
Elliott trained up to three times a day up north, often as the mercury soared towards 40 degrees celsius.
Meanwhile, Canterbury’s Kieran Foran will have an MRI and visit a specialist this week to get the all clear on his right shoulder, but will now be touch and go to return against the Sea Eagles after tweaking a hamstring during the week.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.