Penrith NRL star rebounds from setbacks

Laine Clark
Reagan Campbell-Gillard has recovered from physical and mental blows ahead of the 2019 NRL season

His broken jaw is almost 100 per cent but Reagan Campbell-Gillard is more excited about having a clear mind in 2019 after hitting "rock bottom" last NRL season.

Campbell-Gillard says he has former Penrith teammate Peter Wallace to thank for regaining his confidence as he prepared to launch yet another injury comeback.

The Panthers prop hopes to return to full contact next week after suffering the fracture from a head clash at training before Christmas - the second time in seven months he had broken his jaw.

Confident of featuring in the Panthers' pre-season trials, Campbell-Gillard can now joke about the latest injury caused by friendly fire from teammate James Fisher-Harris.

"It was Fish. Fish has pretty much damaged me a few times," Campbell-Gillard told the NRL.com website.

But the first time the 25-year-old came back from a jaw fracture was no laughing matter.

The NSW State of Origin enforcer was forced to undergo surgery when his jaw was broken by Sydney Roosters' Jared Waerea-Hargreaves shoulder in a legal tackle back in June.

His confidence took an even bigger hit.

Campbell-Gillard missed NSW's Origin series success after playing the opening game but got back on the field to feature in the Panthers' run into the NRL finals.

The giant prop beat himself up for not being able to find form on his injury return and struggled mentally to deal with outside criticism.

"I was probably at rock bottom. When I say rock bottom it was the personal issues I had outside of football - it was a mental thing," he said.

"When you don't really talk to someone you can bottle all that stuff up and form gets involved.

"Then you have voices coming from your coaches and the media coming at you - it was just trying to deal with things like that."

It wasn't until ex-Panthers skipper Wallace - who retired in June due to injury - reached out that Campbell-Gillard began to turn it around.

"He sent me a message and said 'let's go for a coffee' and that's when I started talking," he said.

Campbell-Gillard finally found form again and was rewarded with Kangaroos selection for the 2018 end-of-year Tests.

"It's a lot different now so I should be better," he said.

"I am moving forward. I am a lot more happier."