RCG Made Tougher From Injury Scars

The season that was for Reagan Campbell-Gillard comes down to a simple approach that often separates the tough from the toughest.

'Get knocked down seven times, you stand up eight.'

And countless times in 2018, RCG stood tallest in the moments he feared he wouldn't. Time and time again, he would get knocked down yet rise to his feet – not only tougher, but with a determination to go one better.

He (Campbell-Gillard) told the team what he was going through and everyone understood that and we had his back.

Tyrone Peachey

He burst into Origin contention on the back of his brutal defensive efforts that could often turn a game on its head, but suffering a broken jaw just one week after making his NSW debut proved costly.

The greatest challenge he faced was not the 13 players he would charge at from the opening kick-off, but rather the mental battle of returning from an injury with, potentially, significant ramifications. 

"I didn't tell anyone that I didn't have it in the back of my mind but I probably did," Campbell-Gillard admitted.

"I probably had it and it's definitely showed in the three games where I thought I was absolutely rubbish, and I probably wasn't up to the standard of football I like to play."

Times were tough for Reagan Campell-Gillard after his injury ruled him out of Origin.
Times were tough for Reagan Campell-Gillard after his injury ruled him out of Origin. ©NRLPhotos

Such was his red-hot form throughout the opening half of the year that he could be forgiven for having such high expectations on himself.

He quickly gained a reputation as one of the most feared players in the competition. So much so, that his influence on the Penrith Panthers proved invaluable.

But when he returned from injury he quickly became his toughest critic – not satisfied with his form, he opened up to those he knew could get him through.

His team-mates.

And the honest chat forged a united bond among the Panthers squad that helped galvanise the Blues enforcer at the business end of the season – helping them to the second week of the finals when they were all but certain to head into dire straits.

"I spoke to him a little bit, and he (Campbell-Gillard) told the team what he was going through and everyone understood that and we had his back," Tyrone Peachey said.

"I suppose we all got our little problems that we have to deal with and for him to come out and tell everyone in the team and the media now is massive, and I don't think many people would have the guts to tell the team or tell the media.

"I'm happy for him, he got it off his chest now, he's gotten past it [and] he's in the Australian team."

The selection in the Australian Kangaroos side is not only a reward for RCG's persistence through a time where his team needed him most, but also recognition of his ability to overcome the greatest of challenges – both mental and physical.

It's a sign that Campbell-Gillard is not just another 'tough' player in Rugby League, but without doubt one of the toughest.

A simple approach that separates the good, from the great.