The Cumberland Throw

Reagan Reigniting – Finding The Old Reg, Unleashing The New

Changing clubs via a five year deal is a massive gamble. It might even verge on the absurd when it involves gaining an early release from a recently signed long term contract with the team that’s been your home for just on ten years. 

But for Reagan Campbell-Gillard, the unthinkable move to Parramatta became a necessity as the highly respected prop lost the passion for the game he loved.

At 26 years of age and entering his sixth season of NRL, RCG is now in the prime years for a middle forward.

The Eels were looking for a forward to help them to challenge for a title. Campbell-Gillard needed a new home.

Time for Reagan to reignite.

The Story So Far

At his best, the 2018 Blues Origin representative is one of the NRL’s elite middle forwards. Part way through that 2018 season, his was a story of a western Sydney kid making good.

Raised by his single mother, Georgina Campbell, the former Hills Sports High Student made his way through the Windsor Wolves into the Penrith Panthers pathways, playing SG Ball then graduating to NYC in 2012.

A Kangaroo in his 3rd season of NRL.

After making his NRL debut for the Panthers in Round 1 of 2015, the 193cm front rower became a top grade mainstay, and was soon rewarded for his powerful displays with selection in the Australian squad for the 2017 World Cup. By the end of that year, Campbell-Gillard’s resume listed five Kangaroos caps, two appearances for Fiji, in addition to jerseys for City, the PM’s XIII and the World All Stars. He was also named the Dally M Interchange Forward of the Year.

He literally had more accolades than a certain Byron Bay busker.

At the time of his Blues Origin selection in 2018, the big unit was one of the most highly rated forwards in the NRL. But every journey has its bumps in the road, and for “Reg” a broken jaw in Round 15 of that season derailed his upward trajectory.

Not that it was the first time that Campbell-Gillard had faced a serious injury.

Back in late 2016 he was struck by a late shoulder charge which left him with two fractured vertebrae.

However, the damage to the jaw was compounded when he broke it again during a December 2018 preseason training mishap. This probably left him drinking blended Christmas ham and/or turkey over the two week break, and undoubtedly both physically and mentally scarred going into 2019.

What a difference 12 months had made!

 

Risk Or Reward – By The Numbers

Though the majority of supporters and analysts praised the Eels for recruiting the Penrith prop, there were some doubting Thomases. And concerns about RCG’s injuries seemed validated when he arrived at Old Saleyards with an elbow injury.

Yet another recruit needing to rehab? Is he a high risk, injury prone signing?

A quick glance at his career record should dispel any such misconceptions.

Across five seasons, Campbell-Gillard has posted 114 NRL appearances. That’s an average of just on 23 games per season. That’s surely impressive for someone who plies their trade in the engine room on an NRL field. Indeed, in the Annus horribilis that was his 2018 season, RCG still played 21 matches, missing only 5 rounds due to that jaw injury.

What about his 2019 season? How do his numbers stack up?

As a reference point, I’ve measured RCG’s last season against the current Eels props. These stats don’t factor minutes played, but given that Reg only started in 3 of his 23 games in 2019, the returns make for interesting reading.

Player

TB

PCM

HU

RM

ARM

T

O

Campbell-Gillard

24

835

9.6

2471

107.4

682

10

Alvaro

15

527

8.9

1722

90.7

474

9

Paulo

38

972

10.9

3137

130.7

547

59

Evans

29

682

9.2

1880

99

357

22

TB- tackle breaks. PCM – Post contact metres. HU – Hit ups RM – run metres (total). ARM – Average run metres. T – tackles. O – offloads

Just based on these numbers, what Reg himself describes as a year he’d rather forget, actually compares favourably to both Evans and Alvaro. Given Penrith’s 14th placing, RCG probably deserves extra credit.

At Eels training.

A quick check back on Campbell-Gillard’s stats in 2017 reveal why he would have been personally disappointed in his 2019 returns. They also emphasise the potential impact of a revitalised RCG.

Consider these numbers from that stellar year – 3366 running metres off an average of 12.3 runs per game; 1191 post contact metres; 707 tackles.

Little wonder he earned his representative honours in that season!

That form alongside a damaging prop like Junior Paulo could be a game changer for the Eels.

 

Early Training Form

It’s on public record that Campbell-Gillard arrived needing rehab from an elbow injury, which left him a little behind the eight ball in early conditioning.

Moving in for a collision at training.

The surprise has been how quickly his fitness has been returning and his subsequent willingness to enter into collisions during opposed drills. Despite wearing the orange singlet of a rehab player, RCG has been charging his 115kg frame into the defence line, demanding to be tackled, and likewise executed a collection of big hits of his own when defending.

Though it’s very early days and the full contact opposed work has been limited, all of the signs are there that Parra’s new recruit is determined to earn a starting spot.

I also believe that the coaches are looking to develop RCG’s passing game. If he can return to 2017 form, and add greater ball playing to his repertoire, he’ll more than repay the Eels investment.

Recently, I had the opportunity at a function to speak with Reg about his shift to Parra. He admitted that he didn’t know what to expect as he’d only ever played for the Panthers. He stated that it would have been easy to stay at Penrith but he needed to make the change. There was no criticism of his former club, which I marked as a genuine positive. The other major positive was when Campbell-Gillard expressed how easy the move to the Eels had been.

The Blue and Gold army can be pleased that the club has recruited a quality prop to strengthen its pack in 2020. And in shifting to the Eels, Reagan Campbell-Gillard might just add a new dimension to his game.

Move over Si-vo! Maybe the “Mo Show” could well be the new cult figure at Bankwest Stadium in 2020.

Eels forever!

Sixties

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Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Sixties, what you have posted shows a player that is without doubt a leader within the forwards, but he is also the same as a team player. When the eels were rumoured to be signing him, I watched his game as much as I could on the box, & saw a player doing a lot more than many give him credit for. One of the early things I did was to go through the various stats columns from different areas, and he led many of the higher profile players in no small ways. The ones you have produced are very… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Hey mate – this is off topic but are you able to shed any light on these Sivo to Toulon rumours ? I believe it’s garbage but having someone with your insight into the team confirm that would be great lol

Eggman
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Eggman

He has said he is very keen to return to rep honors, that in itself shows he has self belief, determination and pride in his performance and achievements, this is a good sign for us.I am very keen for next year, we have finally got a pack to be excited about probably for tje first time since Hindy Fui and Cayless. Another thing for those that don’t know Reagan is the cousin of the Sims so great stock.I had a chat with young Dave Hollis last night , such a very polite and nice kid.and huge.

John Eel
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John Eel

Sixties I seen RCG quoted in an interview after signing with the Eels saying that he changed his running style at the behest of the Panthers coach. He said that he was not entirely happy with the change.

I got a sense from that interview that he would like to revert to his old style. He did not state exactly what the changes were but I would guess that it was along the lines discussed by Colin.

Looking forward to see him play in the Blue and Gold and I have very high hopes for him in season 2020.

Milo
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Milo

RCG is a v good buy. He has experience and has had the chance to play rep footy. We have recruited two players with rep exp. Matterson the other. RCG also comes from good stock as mentioned and he was brought up in tough but respectable parts of western Sydney, His mum was very pro active of the boys when young and i seem to recall RCG and older brother heavily involved in sports. He will be v good for us. Great read again sixties. RCG has the repertoire to note only charge into the defence but play before the… Read more »

Rowdy
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Rowdy

Sixties, great read once again mate. To read all the other background on this bloke which supports everything you have said, is an eye opener for me. RCG certainly has exceptional stats for a man who has sustained serious injury multiple times. It is little wonder now why Gus Gould had such huge wraps on this fella! I believe we have once again kicked a big goal with our recruitment for next season. I do have one question though, If RCG was the Dally M interchange forward of the year, why would BA even consider playing him in the starting… Read more »

Zero58
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Zero58

When Frizell and Arrow were discussed as possible buys my thoughts were toward RCG. He is big , mobile and mean. By playing Junior Pauli and RCG up front from the start will contribute to the Eels getting control of the mid field. This will help Polar and Evans as running big men to take some advantage when taking over. Too many times Junior got caught without muscle support early in the game. I think BA should blood Kaufusi early in the season with a bench place. See if he is up to it. Taka should be our next Gower… Read more »

Rocket
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Rocket

I remember when we played Penrith at Bankwest. Campbell-Gillard hit our defensive line and kept powering through many times. Very impressed that night. We couldn’t handle him. I think that was Tim Mannahs last bureau in first grade.

BDon
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BDon

Yes, I recall thinking that night ‘where’s Nathan Brown when you need him’(he was out injured). We kept dropping the ball and the Penrith forwards were using it to batter us.RCG played strong, he’ll add heaps to our pack. Momentum and agility, look at Storm, Roosters and Raiders, they specialise in these factors.

Glenn
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Glenn

To win the comp you have to have a good mix of in-form and rep players. Parra now have 3 players with rep experience in their squad and one close to being picked in SOO team (Matterson). With the experience gained this year by the young spine I expect us to go better next year but whether that’ll be a premiership remains to be seen. Regardless we now have probably our best team since 2001, unfortunately we all know how that ended.

Many thanks to you all for the reading throughout the year.

Jimmy Corbo
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Jimmy Corbo

In my very humble opinion the difference between us and the big boys of the NRL is the middle defence, not alone on that one I’m sure. We have no issues scoring tries with a fearsome back row, Centre, Wing combo on either side. I’m hoping RCG can add some starch in the middle and that will take us along way to competing with the Roosters, Storm etc. I was wrapped with his signing and like others didn’t think he was playing that poorly, certainly not at his best but far from badly. Last year we showed we have enough… Read more »