Australia Campbell-Gillard plays down NRL rivalry

12:32  15 september  2021
12:32  15 september  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

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Reagan Campbell-Gillard knows the bitter western Sydney rivalry from both sides but ahead of Saturday's semi-final he wants to be clear - Parramatta is his home now.

a man holding a football ball: Parramatta enforcer Reagan Campbell-Gillard is ready for an NRL final against former club Penrith. © Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS Parramatta enforcer Reagan Campbell-Gillard is ready for an NRL final against former club Penrith.

The ex-Penrith prop is one of a handful of players who have made the switch between arch-rivals over the years but was nonchalant to the point of being guarded when asked about his old club.

A sudden-death final on Saturday will be the fourth time he's played the Panthers in two seasons since he fell out of favour with his junior club in 2019.

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But any talk of reopening old wounds were quickly put to bed.

"I've been here for a while now so I call Parramatta home now," he said.

"It's do-or-die for both teams now and I've made it clear that we don't want to go home, so we'll be doing anything and everything we can to get the win on Saturday.

"They've been the in-form team for the last two years so you can't take them lightly or dip the toe in."

The 28-year-old claims he hasn't watched much of the Panthers' history-making season this year, nor their qualifying final loss to South Sydney.

However, he doesn't need to tune in to know what to expect.

"I get they're a high-energy team and very powerful so we've done all our homework on them and see what happens on Saturday," he said.

"I didn't watch (their 16-10 loss to Souths).

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"We've got to show them a lot of respect, they don't show you many opportunities so once we get opportunities we have to take them.

"They're like Melbourne, they don't give you many."

The ex-Origin and Test prop was at his barnstorming best in a 28-20 win over Newcastle on Sunday, clocking up 105 metres and 26 tackles in a classic front-rower performance.

It was impressive after five weeks off with a groin injury, which could have ruled him out for the rest of the season.

"We rehabbed it really well to put myself in a position for the weekend, so general body soreness is back to square one again," he said.

"It was scheduled to be an 8-10 week injury, so I think I did it in five or six.

"I needed everything to kind of go my way in my favour, so once we did the injury we were set on the first semi-final.

"For the first 20 minutes was very tight and trying to get back up to speed with everything.

"As the game got further on in the second half I started to get back into my groove again."

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