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Campbell-Gillard: I should have been dropped sooner

Now that his form has returned to a level he's happy with, Panthers prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard is happy to concede he should have been dropped earlier.

A blunt Campbell-Gillard admits it has been "a pretty shit year" so far, having also been overlooked for NSW despite an injury crisis in the front row.

His unhappy 2018 has included a stint in the Canterbury Cup, a far cry from being part of the Kangaroos side that won the 2017 World Cup.

Speaking at Panthers training on Tuesday, the 25-year-old said it was the first time in his career he'd had to deal with such a form slump.

"I've never been through the form at the start of the year like that," he said.

Panthers confident Cleary could play Origin decider

"You try to find answers and things just probably weren't working. I kind of wish it happened at the start of my career rather than now. That's just football and the only thing I can do is just knuckle down.

"Probably the last month or so I've found that form again, I just have to forget about what happened at the start of the year and build for the rest of the year.

"I'm currently happy with the performances I'm putting out but I don't want to be comfortable there, I want to keep improving."

The Panthers were soundly beaten in rounds eight and nine by Canberra and Wests Tigers, with Campbell-Gillard and fellow senior man Josh Mansour paying the price with a week in reserve grade in round 10.

Panthers prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
Panthers prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard. ©Shane Myers/NRL Photos

Both bounced back; Campbell-Gillard racked up over 200 metres in a 28-10 win over the Warriors while the NRL side suffered a third straight heavy defeat.

He was recalled by coach Ivan Cleary the next week in a very ugly but morale-boosting win over the Eels, and helped the side to what is now four straight wins with some significantly improved performances.

"Everyone prides themselves on not being dropped. It was probably a kick up the butt and a wake-up call type thing," Campbell-Gillard added.

"I took it with both hands, I had a really good conversation with [Cleary], I said I probably deserved it ... at the start of the year I probably should have been dropped.

"For it to go on so long and going through the motions type thing, I wasn't happy with my football and I'm kind of glad it happened then. The body was feeling a bit tired as well, a bit drained."

It was probably a kick up the butt and a wake-up call type thing

Reagan Campbell-Gillard

Despite having emerged from the form slump, the front rower is still at a loss to explain why it happened. Some have suggested he was a little gun shy after last year's broken jaw while he himself said it could just be luck or karma biting at the wrong time.

"I asked myself so many questions," he said.

"I believe things that have happened to me in the past have caught up. I just think it's the karma type thing. I feel personally that's just caught up, there's nothing I can do about it.

"I just said 'why me' and 'why did it have to come at an important time of the year'. I've never been through that form type thing through my career.

"I'm kind of glad it did so I can learn when I do feel like I'm going that way I can nip it in the bud really quickly to not go down that same path. Done and dusted. I'm just trying to forget about the first half of the year and happy now to try and improve my form and as a team."

The Man I Am – Josh Mansour

Campbell-Gillard responded to being dropped how good players should – go to reserve grade with a good attitude, prove you're too good for that level and earn your spot back in the top team.

With Daniel Saifiti excelling on Origin debut and David Klemmer a chance of returning for the Origin decider, Campbell-Gillard's hopes of an Origin recall this year look slim but if he misses out he is desperate to earn his spot back in 2020.

"I know the type of player I am and do feel like I can be back there," he said.

"If it's not game three I'll set myself that goal again next year to be there because it's definitely a great game and a game you always cherish.

"Watching it as a young kid you aspire to be there one day. I don't want to be that player that plays just the one Origin game so I'd like to get a few under the belt and I'll definitely be a more happy and confident player for the rest of my career."

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