SYDNEY : Indigenous trailblazer Mark Ella said he was never upset that for a quarter of a century Australia played England for the Cook Cup, but was "honoured" that his name will be on the trophy that replaces it.
Rugby Australia and their English counterparts have decided the two nations will compete for the Ella-Mobbs Cup from next month's test series, the new trophy replacing that named for the British explorer who claimed the country for England.
The new trophy is named after Ella, Australia's first indigenous captain, and Edgar Mobbs, who played for England in their first rugby test against Australia in 1909 and later served his country with distinction in World War I.
Captain James Cook's arrival in 1770 in Botany Bay, where Ella was raised as one of 12 children of a fisherman, is mourned by many in the indigenous community as it presaged the European takeover of the island continent.
"I understand the connotations and it certainly didn't upset me," Ella told reporters at Coogee Oval on Friday.
"I think it's time to recognise the rivalry between the RFU and Rugby Australia and what it means, and having two former players as part of the new Ella-Mobbs Cup, I think this is the way it should be."
Coogee Oval is where Ella and his two brothers, Glen and Gary, played their club rugby for Randwick before all going on to represent Australia.
Eddie Jones also played for Randwick and although Ella has not kept close tabs on rugby since his shock retirement at the age of 25, he was looking forward to catching up with the England coach next month.
"We've known each other since we were three-years-old," the 63-year-old added.
"We did kindergarten, primary school and high school. I know my twin brother Glen and Eddie are thick as thieves. We'll have a few laughs and giggles when I do catch him."
The trophy, designed by Ella's niece Natalie Bateman, will be unveiled ahead of the first of the three tests against England in Perth on July 2.