Eels’ front-row power fuels Blues’ series opener


SYDNEY: Reagan Campbell-Gillard reckoned his chance to play State of Origin had passed him by, but the Parramatta front-rower reserved special praise for the impact Junior Paulo has had on his Eels career.
Campbell-Gillard made his Origin debut in 2018 while at Penrith before moving to Parramatta the following year.
Injuries and the form of other props have kept him out of the side, with Paulo one of the forwards who moved ahead of Campbell-Gillard in the pecking order for a New South Wales spot.
“I thought it had passed me by and I’m lucky to get a shot,” CampbellGillard said.
“I still feel there are a lot of better front-rowers.
“I feel like I’ve been playing the same way each year, but can’t put my finger on what it is.
“I am enjoying life outside of football and that’s reflected in how I’m playing.”
Paulo is named to start while Campbell-Gillard will come off the bench tomorrow night, meaning there may be little time that the pair spend alongside each other on the field.
Regardless, Paulo said Campbell-Gillard’s recall was deserved.
“His form has been outstanding this year and we’ve got a great onetwo punch combination,” he said.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to play alongside him at this level.
“He’s been killing it and you could definitely say that (he is in career best form).”
Paulo and Campbell-Gillard will enter the arena knowing just how dangerous they can be together.
The pair have built one of the most-effective front-row partnerships in the National Rugby League and as a team, only Penrith have run for more metres than the Eels this season.
Parramatta also top the competition for offloads and completed sets.
A big part of that is how Campbell-Gillard and Paulo get them going forward with the likes of Ryan Matterson.