The Kangaroos World Cup front row will be unleashed on Wednesday night, only this time in sky blue, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Jake Trbojevic set to be reunited for Origin III.
The duo was in the starting line-up for the Kangaroos for last year’s Rugby League World Cup final, playing their part in a dominant 30-10 victory over Samoa at Old Trafford.
Campbell-Gillard missed the first two games of the Origin series after a high-grade groin injury ruled him out of the competition for two months.
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The Blues prop thanked his medical team for cutting his rehabilitation period short and helping him become match-fit in time for this year’s final clash against the Maroons, albeit that the series result has already been settled.
Trbojevic will make an early return to the NSW side after being ruled out of Origin selection before game one after suffering a calf tear in Manly’s clash against the Raiders.
Although it is unknown what the outcome would have been if the two front rowers were available for the opening games, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has faith the pair will be a strong force against the Maroons in game three.
“They’re a good combo, which is why they started for us in that final,” Meninga said.
“Reg has worked hard, he’s worked his butt off to get back, and he’s just a tough, uncompromising player who is a good leader and good fella to have around that group.
“He also loves taking that first run.”
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The 29-year-old is playing in his prime years, having won two World Cup finals with the Kangaroos (2017 and 2022).
However, the star has yet to dominate in the Origin arena, dropping in and out of the Blues side over the past three years.
He’s ready to make an impact on Wednesday, saying “we will be playing for pride to make sure it doesn’t end up a whitewash.”
The Parramatta prop was introduced back into the Blues squad at the expense of teammate Junior Paulo, revealing he was surprised to see his front-row mate dropped from the squad.
“I was a bit shocked, I thought he [Paulo] would be here,” Campbell-Gillard said.
“I know he’s keen to get back and do a job for Parra. I think it was going to be him or me [selected].
“We’re close. We know each other’s games really well. He doesn’t have to say much for me to know what he’s thinking and vice versa.”
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The two Eels props have only played seven out of 17 possible club games together this season due to injury, suspension and Origin duties, but Campbell-Gillard revealed he is “keen to finish the back end of the year with him and string some consistent games together.”
“We haven’t played together much this year because of me being injured, or him being suspended or on Origin duty,” said Campbell-Gillard.
“[As for Wednesday] for me to be back playing for NSW and this jersey, it means a lot to me and my family.
“We’re playing for pride making sure it doesn’t end up a whitewash.
“I’m pretty straight up and down, everyone knows how I play,” Campbell-Gillard said.
“I’ve won two World Cups now, and I’m always thankful whenever I get to be a part of these representative teams.”
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