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Panthers prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard.

The word hate doesn't sit well with Reagan Campbell-Gillard but he insists there's no better way to describe the rivalry between Penrith and Parramatta ahead of Sunday's Battle of the West at Panthers Stadium.

While all the talk leading into the opening round of the season centred around South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters on Friday night, no other sides take a local derby as personally as the Panthers.

Campbell-Gillard, who grew up in a heartland area of Mt Druitt and played his junior football in surrounding areas Rooty Hill and Windsor, insists the rivalry between the two clubs stems from junior levels.

"If you look at all the advertising and commercial side it's battle of the west. It's plain and simple, right across the headline there … to see who's the best in the west," Campbell-Gillard said.

"As a junior, you come through the system to hate them. I also don't like that word but it is. It doesn't matter what form you're in, it's a game you get up for.

Panthers v Eels - Round 1

"If you ask the local community the number one team they dislike they'll say Parramatta. It's pretty much the same here."

Penrith winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was asked earlier this week if he would ever contemplate joining the Eels if an offer came his way.

His answer was simple.

It's plain and simple … to see who's the best in the west

Penrith prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard

"Would I ever play for the Eels?," the St Clair junior repeated.

"Nah. I like to picture things and I could never picture myself in a blue and yellow jersey.

"As kids, it's bred in us we don't like Parramatta no matter what. When you come up against Parra it's all or nothing. I don't personally hate Parramatta but it's a very big rivalry since before I was born."

Last year's corresponding game in round one, where the Panthers came from behind to beat the Eels 24-14 to open the season, ended up symbolising how both club's season played out.

Penrith were notorious comeback kings after trailing early, while Parramatta's woes continued throughout their season.

In this case, both western Sydney clubs start the season on an even ledger and Campbell-Gillard expects an improved performance against his rivals from the club's recent 20-0 loss in their final trial game.

"We didn't really show them much," he said of last week's performance.

"That was playing on our mind [we were playing them again] and 'don't get injured, you want to play round one'. That's the mindset there.

"Good on them, they fired a few shots there and we've done our homework. They tend to have a good game and we'll do the same thing. They're going to come out firing and we've just got to match it and go one step better."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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