City bolter ticking boxes on and off the field
Penrith and City Origin bolter Reagan Campbell-Gillard wasn't expecting a call-up to Brad Fittler's team, and while it's set to impact his Bachelor of Policing studies, there was no way he could turn down the opportunity of a representative debut after just eight NRL games.
Studying at University of Western Sydney's Kingswood campus, the 21-year-old prop will have to put his studies on hold temporarily thanks to his shock call-up, which he found out about on his way home from the Panthers' 26-18 win over the Sharks on Sunday.
"I was in shock. I'm still in shock," Campbell-Gillard said.
"I didn't expect it at all. I thought it was a bit of gee-up. Like I thought someone was out to stir me up but [Panthers' Assistant Coach] Trent Barrett actually called me first and passed me on to Brad so I'm absolutely stoked by it.
"I had an assignment due [Monday] so that may have to be put on hold for now. [Policing] is something to obviously fall back on because rugby league never lasts forever."
While he is ticking boxes on the field, averaging 97metres and 23.5 tackles for the mountain men, it is off the field where Campbell-Gillard has remained impressive also in accordance with his studies.
Having participated in St Mary's Police Operation 'Enough' which is aimed to combat underage drinking and drug usage, Campbell-Gillard is using his stature as a Panther to not only influence young behaviours but also extend his knowledge.
"Operation 'Enough' uses Panther players as figures to try and encourage these kids to get their lives back on track and try to tell them 'this is not the way to go'," Campbell-Gillard said.
"Policing is something I've always wanted to do, so if we get one kid out of a 100 who turns his life around then that's something we're doing right.
"There a lot of kids out there with plenty of talent but they're hanging around the wrong crowd and we just have to get out into the community and tell them it isn't the best thing to do."
The Windsor Wolves junior was a loss for words when he watched the likes of well-established stars and now-teammates Andrew Fifita and Josh Reynolds strut their stuff at City's first gathering as a team on Monday morning.
It's a shock which he said had affected his Panthers teammate and fellow debutant Waqa Blake as well.
Despite the duo having club teammates Matt Moylan, Tyrone Peachey and former NYC teammate in Titans centre James Roberts by their side – Campbell-Gillard said both he and Blake were privileged by their unlikely selection.
"Waqa has had a handful of games now and he's going to get a lot of confidence out of this and I'm pretty excited to play with the boys I've played with previously. I think Waqa is still shocked too," Campbell-Gillard said.
"We're both still young and to get the opportunity to play for City is very positive for us. I wasn't thinking about being in this team. I was looking forward to having the week off but what can you say?"
"Any player I play against or play with is a massive privilege so I'm going to take it all in and hopefully play well."