Fresh details emerge around NSW enforcer's State of Origin axing

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·Sports Reporter
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Reagan Campbell-Gillard (pictured right) and Nathan Cleary (pictured left) walk out for the Blues State of Origin media conference.
NRL reporter Paul Kent claimed Reagan Campbell-Gillard (pictured right) may not have been picked for the Blues' State of Origin squad due to team chemistry with some teammates. (Getty Images)

NRL reporter Paul Kent has claimed NSW coach Brad Fittler overlooked Parramatta forward Reagan Campbell-Gillard for the State of Origin decider because of a divide within the playing group.

Fittler has made a raft of changes since NSW lost the series opener, and was forced to bring in Newcastle prop Jacob Saifiti to replace Jordan McLean for Wednesday night's Game III.

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McLean originally replaced Payne Haas after the Broncos forward was ruled out of the decider with injury.

But the decision not to bring back Campbell-Gillard, who played in Game I before being dropped for Game II, has raised eyebrows.

Speculation has been swirling that there is an issue with the former Penrith prop and the current crop of Panthers players in the Blues squad.

After leaving the Panthers to join the Eels in 2020, Campbell-Gillard took a dig at his former club.

“When you’re in the position I was in, coming off the bench and playing 25 to 30 minutes, you tend to think, ‘Stuff it, I’ll start doing this and that and not caring about it’,” he said in an interview on Channel 9.

Former teammate and NSW halfback Nathan Cleary took exception to those comments.

“He makes some silly comments sometimes,” Cleary said at the time.

“It’s just how it is. When he said that he stopped trying last year, a few of the boys were quite pissed off about that.”

NRL reporter Paul Kent (pictured) speaking on Fox Sports.
NRL reporter Paul Kent (pictured) claimed Reagan Campbell-Gillard may not have been picked due to team chemistry within the Blues. (Image: Fox Sports)

On Monday night, veteran reporter Kent talked about a possible divide between the players.

“It’s been around the game from Game I and no one has gone out public with it,” Kent said on Fox Sports' Monday Night Footy.

“He came from Penrith where he had an unsettling exit. There was a bit of bad blood there. Things haven’t been fixed.

“No disrespect for Reagan Campbell-Gillard who has been playing superbly, but from a team chemistry point of view the mistake was to pick him (for Game I), particularly in front of Jake Trbojevic.”

Veteran journalist Phil Rothfield claimed Fittler may have been ignoring the obvious pick for the position and said the players should be able to put aside their differences for Origin.

But Kent disagreed, saying: “Personalities sometimes just don’t work and when you’ve got one bloke and you’ve got half a dozen from another club, the majority of whom don’t get on with him and have gone public with the fact that he pissed him off."

Reagan Campbell-Gillard, pictured here playing in State of Origin I before being axed.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard played in State of Origin I before being axed. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Blues looking to overturn State of Origin record

The Blues have an ugly record in winner-takes-all Origin contests, having won just one of the last nine series deciders.

Tedesco was the man who scored the winning try in that sole victory - in 2019 in Sydney - but he describes winning in Brisbane in Origin III as "a different beast".

The Blues have won just two deciders in Brisbane in the history of the three-game series.

Tedesco has the chance to join Laurie Daley (1994) and Danny Buderus (2005) as the only NSW captains to clinch the series in game three in the Maroons' backyard.

"I know it was done in 1994 and 2005 and some of those boys have come and talked to us about how it's a different beast out there," Tedesco told AAP.

"It's a great opportunity for us. It hasn't been won by NSW up there (at Suncorp) for a long time."

with AAP

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