RCG embarks on tough four-year road to Origin recall, reveals Blues debutant who ‘impressed’ him

Recalled Blues star Reagan Campbell-Gillard takes nothing for granted as he prepares to don his second NSW jersey four years after debuting for his state.

The now 28-year-old veteran of 167 NRL matches was only 24 when he made his Blues bow, but a broken jaw put his Origin career on hold and he’s been trying to get back on the team ever since.

“It’s one of those things you never take for granted,” Campbell-Gillard told foxsports.com.au.

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“Of course you have to cherish every moment and every day that you are at camp and every opportunity you get. It doesn’t matter if it’s club level or representative level.

“There have been a few drinks between games for me and I am very happy and grateful to be back on the side.

“It will be good to get rid of that one game and hopefully make it into two and then we’ll see what happens.”

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After being stranded on one NSW cap for four years, Campbell-Gillard could have been forgiven for doubting his return to the game’s toughest arena, but the Eels prop always had an Origin return in his thoughts.

“It’s always a goal every year,” said Campbell-Gillard.

“I think you should set a goal every year and try to achieve it. For the past four years, I’ve set a goal every year.


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Reagan Campbell-Gillard made his debut for the Blues in 2018.Source: AAP

“I wouldn’t say there was any doubt, you just try your best and try to play your best football, but of course there are other guys who play better football and you can’t help that.

“It’s the way things happen. It’s football and the guys who have played for the past four years have been at the top of their game for the past four years.

“I think you need a little bit of luck to go your way and I think I had that this time. It’s like my whole career, I’ve had a little bit of luck finding my way to make things happen and a little bit my way.

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Reagan Campbell-Gillard is pumped to get another shot at Origin.Source: News Corp Australia

“If you attribute it to talent and luck, I’d say it would be 50/50.”

Campbell-Gillard revealed that he had originally missed Brad Fittler’s call to inform him of his inclusion in the squad and had to call him back to hear the good news.

“I was in Canberra and I had a missed call from Freddy so I had to call him back,” said Campbell-Gillard.

“He told me congratulations you’re in and I got into a car and came straight into the camp.”

Two more Eels in Junior Paulo and Ryan Matterson in the Blues 17 and Campbell-Gillard was particularly happy for Matterson after a couple of near misses.
“I think he probably deserved a spot more than me,” Campbell-Gillard said of Matterson.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard is happy for Eels teammate and Blues debutant Ryan Matterson.Source: News Corp Australia

“Just because of his consistency in club football and the way he plays. His football has gone to another level this year and he really plays a huge role for us at Parramatta.

“Every game he played this year was at his best and he improved every game too.

“I am quite happy to see that he gets his chance. It has been a dream and a goal for him and he can experience that on Wednesday evening.

“I think he will play a huge role given his consistency.”

Another Kotoni Staggs debutant has caught Campbell-Gillard’s attention and he believes the NSW center is ready for a stormy game.

“Kotoni Staggs impressed me,” he said.

Kotoni Staggs has impressed Reagan Campbell-Gillard.Source: News Corp Australia

“For his size he is very fast and strong. You see him on TV and when you play against him he is one of those players that you have to do a lot of homework on.

“I think he’s going to play a really big game. He’s been so consistent for the Broncos.”

Fittler has made a huge impact on NSW culture since he took over in 2018 and handed Campbell-Gillard his debut jersey and the grateful gag revealed exactly what makes the Blues coach so special.

“I think it’s just about effort,” Campbell-Gillard said.

“I think everyone in this team has those qualities. That’s what Freddy is really into.

“We represent our state and it’s not just us. It’s the whole state that we’re putting on that sweater for.

“Freddy is huge around history and what the jersey means and the whole week is based around that theme.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard at Blues training at Coogee.Source: News Corp Australia

“He is so passionate about the state and what it means for NSW. He rides that with every player in the squad.

“It’s not just about yourself and your family and club. It’s your entire state that you represent.

“I’m pretty excited for Wednesday and can’t wait to get out there and tear into it.”

Queensland has selected a youth squad under freshman coach Billy Slater, but Campbell-Gillard believes this will work in their favor and the Blues will need to be alert and match their energy.

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“One to 17 all those players are playing football very consistently for their respective clubs,” Campbell-Gillard said of the Queensland side.

“I’m sure they will be ready to go, young and full of energy and talent.

“I’m sure they come here to get a job done and win and we are no different.”

Campbell-Gillard won’t be reinventing the wheel, though, whether he gets off the couch or starts in Origin I.

“I’ll just make sure I do my job,” he said.

“I just have to make sure I keep moving. I wouldn’t try to do anything unusual. Make sure I play my game.

“I just have to make sure I can move the team forward when it’s my turn and bring a lot of energy.”

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