Campbell-Gillard in hospital with broken back
Panthers coach Anthony Griffin will demand the NRL match review committee look closely into an incident that has left Penrith front-rower Reagan Campbell-Gillard in hospital with a suspected cracked disc in his back.
Campbell-Gillard was left in agony when a third man into a tackle – believed to be Titans prop Ryan James according to Panthers officials – hit Campbell-Gillard in the back as he stood in a tackle.
As he clutched at his back and doubled over in pain, Campbell-Gillard was then forced to pack into a scrum as the shot clock wound down because of the rule that forbids substitutions being made as a scrum is being formed before he was replaced in the 61st minute.
BREAKING - Reagan Campbell-Gillard off to hospital for a suspected cracked disc. Hit by third man in the tackle. Likely season ending.— Penrith Panthers (@PenrithPanthers) August 27, 2016
Campbell-Gillard was taken by ambulance to nearby Robina Hospital shortly after full-time, leaving Griffin with a bitter after-taste following his side's 15-14 win on the Gold Coast that wrapped up a finals berth.
"I'm not one to whinge but I've got a player there with a broken disc in his back by the looks and he didn't get an opportunity to defend himself," Griffin told NRL.com.
"It was sort of like a cannonball tackle or whatever you call it.
"He obviously got a heavy tackle in the back there. I'd have to have a look at the tape but I hope the NRL have a close look at it.
"He's in a bad way. It looks like he has a cracked disc in his back and he's gone out in an ambulance. He's taken a real heavy knock there.
"Hopefully for his sake it's not as bad as what they think."
Watching their teammate taken away by ambulance cast something of a pall over the Panthers playing group who had only moments earlier been jubilant following Matt Moylan's match-winning field goal.
It is unclear whether Campbell-Gillard will be able to fly back to Sydney with the rest of the squad early Sunday afternoon and lock Trent Merrin said all the Panthers players were hoping for the best news possible.
"I'm feeling for him. All the boys are a bit nervous and we're all praying for him and wishing that everything turns out for the best," Merrin said.
"We'll just be on standby to see the results and we'll duck in there and see the big boy and see how he's travelling."
Tyrone Peachey was one of Penrith's best against the Titans and was also anxious to find out the full extent of Campbell-Gillard's injury.
"It's sad to see him like that but everyone's praying that it's not too bad and we'll speak to him when we find out what's wrong," Peachey said.
The 23-year-old City Origin representative was playing his 20th game of the season on Saturday night but is unlikely to be back on the park again in 2016.