If Anthony Griffin wanted a reaction from Reagan Campbell-Gillard last weekend, it would appear the beast well and truly came to his senses in Auckland.
Benched for the first time this year, ‘RCG’ came off the pine to put in a commanding performance for the Panthers in a 34-22 victory over the Warriors, headlined by 180 run metres from 16 carries.
Even more impressive was the fact that the 23-year-old played through an entire hour on the park, his longest stint of the year, forced in part by a first-half injury to Trent Merrin.
“I thought he was outstanding, he played 60 minutes straight…to be able to play that last 40 out the way he did, I thought he was outstanding,” Griffin said.
“He’s been very good for us all year, we just thought we would change our rotation; he ended up playing longer minute than [he does when he starts].
— Penrith Panthers (@PenrithPanthers) 14 July 2017
“He’s been up a long time, he’s been going very well Reagan, he’s still young in his development.”
Across 2017 Campbell-Gillard averages 116 metres per game, but has struggled defensively at times and averages more than three missed tackles per game.
The change in prop rotation last Friday at Mount Smart Stadium also opened up the opportunity for off-season recruit Tim Browne to earn his first start of the season, with the former Canterbury Bulldog enjoying the switch.
“A bit of a change, but it was good to warm up and get stuck into it,” Browne said.
“I enjoyed playing alongside some guys I don’t usually get to play with because I usually interchange for them, so playing with Jimmy Tamou and Mez [Trent Merrin] for a bit longer as well.”
Niggling injuries meant Browne appeared only once in the first six rounds of the season, but he has since been able to put 12 matches together and has become a staple of the talented Penrith pack.
“I came here with a bit of an injury and I had to get it right. It took a few months to actually get into a good groove and I copped a bit of a suspension early in the year too which didn’t help my cause either,” he said.
“I knew I’d get through my injuries. I worked really hard on my recovery, I came to the Panthers with a goal of bettering myself and I am not going to let that go.
“It’s a very talented team that is hard to get into, but I am enjoying my footy and excited to see where it goes.”