“I’m pretty sure Reg will want the kick-off. And then we’ll see the tone of the game set from that first hit-up.”
Campbell-Gillard inked a mammoth long-term deal with Penrith through to the end of 2024, but struggled to make the starting team last season and was granted permission to link with the Eels.
He still features on the cover of the club’s 2020 calendar.
Eels stars Michael Jennings, Waqa Blake, George Jennings and Maika Sivo were also all formerly involved with the mountain club.
Campbell-Gillard has been brilliant for the blue and golds. He amassed more than 100m in the opening 20 minutes against Manly last weekend.
He has spoken regularly about how he stopped enjoying his football at Penrith. He was unsure why, but has thrived after being given the chance to start games.
“I’m not a bench player. It’s plain and simple. I don’t like coming off the bench,” Campbell-Gillard said.
“There were obviously conversations [last year] and you want to be playing first grade. I can’t tell you exactly why I was playing like that. It was just shit, you kick stones and get dropped.
“There’s definitely no point to prove. Penrith have moved on and I’ve moved on.
“I feel comfortable with this team. The coaching staff, it’s chalk and cheese from what I’ve been under from last year.”
Campbell-Gillard said he would always be grateful to Penrith coach Ivan Cleary for giving him his NRL debut, but had enjoyed working under Eels counterpart Brad Arthur.
“Ivan has his ways of how he coaches and Brad has another one,” Campbell-Gillard said.
“I feel comfortable with the way Brad wants to coach. There’s that sense of being wanted to be in the team. When Parra came knocking, it was a no-brainer [for me].
“I had to bite the bullet to get out of the comfort zone.”
Campbell-Gillard still lives in Panthers heartland and said there were just as many Parramatta fans in the area.
Campbell-Gillard and Junior Paulo going head to head with Panthers starting props James Fisher-Harris and James Tamou will be one of the many reasons to tune into the top-of-the-table Bankwest Stadium clash.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.