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Canberra, Australia - October 30 : Ruby League World Cup - Kangaroos Coaching Clinic   on October  30 2017 in Canberra Australia

 Photo: Keegan Carroll /

Kangaroos rookie Reagan Campbell-Gillard admits he was unable to sleep on Tuesday night just hours after Mal Meninga informed him he would make his Test debut against France.

The Panthers prop said the emotion of the achievement got the better of him as he tried to get some rest in the team's Canberra hotel, unable to contain his excitement about the prospect of representing his country on Friday night.

"I honestly didn’t sleep last night just tossing and turning thinking about the game," the Penrith forward said on Wednesday.

"I'm super pumped. I should be fine before the game. Just the build-up of emotion last night I was tossing and turning thinking ‘what’s going on’. Hopefully I can wind it down a bit until Friday then hopefully come Friday I should be pretty pumped and excited to play some footy."

Campbell-Gillard isn't one of those players who has always been dreaming about playing football for Australia. He only developed a strong interest in the sport in his late teens, however he held aspirations of serving his country in the army.

"When I was younger, I had friends in Windsor who asked me to come play footy," he said.

"They needed a couple of front-rowers so I thought, ‘whatever, I’ll come’. I had the forms to go into the army ready to go. I don’t know what it was. I think it was just something I always wanted to do. I wasn’t the brightest human at school and things like that. I just always had a feeling of going into the army.

"I had the forms ready to go, spoke to Mum about it and she was sweet. Then towards the end of that season I had a Penrith recruitment officer taking interest. I didn’t want to get my hopes up but then a couple of weeks later he offered me a development contract and an SG Ball contract. I took that and just went from 20s all the way through to first grade and haven’t looked back since."

His fearless approach and lack of regard for protecting his body stood out throughout his breakout season in 2017.

It’s that same fearless mentality that almost led him to joining the army.

"I probably would have been in the frontline. I have a thing that when it’s your time to go, you have to go," he said.

"You only live once, and that’s just the attitude I go into the game. If I get smashed, I get smashed. I don’t care. I’ll just keep doing it until I get hurt.

"I’m kind of glad it didn’t pan out [with the army]. I’m here today, which is fun. And it’s kind of special that you represent the chevron on your chest given how the army use that."

This article first appeared on

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour 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.