Rugged Penrith Panthers prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard learned a lot on the field in Australia’s successful world cup campaign, but it’s what he learnt off the field that may be of the most benefit to his club side this year.
The 24-year-old was surprised by the relaxed mood in the dressing sheds before Kangaroos matches, something he is hoping to instill at the Panthers over the coming Telstra Premiership season.
Windsor Wolves junior said he responded well to the different culture that the like of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Boyd Cordner fostered within the Australian team.
“I had probably the best six to eight weeks of my life in that team and it is something I will never forget,” he said.
“As a team it was really relaxing, something I’ve never really witnessed before.
“Before the game we had music playing and people having a laugh, then you look at the Penrith side before getting ready and it’s really serious.
“Everyday when I come into training I’m in a happy and positive mood and I try and bring everyone up.”
Despite his elevation into the Kangaroos team, Campbell-Gillard is still likely to defer to the likes of James Tamou and Trent Merrin who remain the leaders of the Panthers pack.
“Not really, we’ve got some experienced players here that I still look up to as leaders,” he said.
“I’ll do my part for the team and try to get us forward, but I’ll probably just let my footy do all the talking.
“We’re starting to get a pretty good combination going on between myself, Jimmy (James Tamou) and Mezza (Trent Merrin).
“I think Mezza’s looking as fit as possible, the best I’ve seen him and Jimmy Tamou I believe he will have a cracking season again.”
There are plenty of youngsters at the Panthers awaiting their call up to the NRL.
After a long and tough pre-season for the young forwards, Campbell-Gillard said there were several of those upcoming players on the brink of getting their opportunity.
“Corey Waddell, Kaide Ellis, Jack Hetherington and Wayde Egan are some youngsters that I believe are ready to play,” he said.
“I believe they can do the job if they get that chance or a crack and I’m sure they will do themselves and their families proud.
“Those players are ready to get a taste and if it’s not now then it’s definitely in the future.”
Leading into the Panthers’ round one rivalry clash against the Parramatta Eels at Pepper Stadium, Campbell-Gillard said the focus will be on not over-complicating the game plan.
“Keep it simple and basic, that’s what we want to do come Sunday,” he said.