November 21, 2017
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I feel bad for saying no to Fiji: RCG

Australian prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard admits he feels bad for knocking back Fiji for the Rugby League World Cup and then accepting an offer to represent the Kangaroos.

Speaking to AAP, he adamantly said that it was not about the money although pay disparity between tier-one and tier-two nations has been a hot topic throughout the Rugby League World Cup, with Australia players set to earn $50,000 each for winning the trophy while minnow nations have been given a $30 daily allowance by World Cup organisers.

Campbell-Gillard, who played one Test for Fiji in 2014, initially opted to turn his back on the Bati in favour of a rest before the Kangaroos came calling following Andrew Fifita's withdrawal.

He will be on the Kangaroos' bench for Friday's semi-final against Fiji.

"Basically I just told (Fiji coach Mick Potter) that I didn't want to play and I thought I'd give the opportunity to someone else that will respect that jersey," Campbell-Gillard told AAP.

"I didn't think I needed it at the time. He was fully understanding about it but obviously someone else has taken that position there and doing their family and country proud."

He insisted he wouldn't have changed his mind if there was more financial incentive.

"Money's not an issue. It's more of a passion and if you really want to play. The season that I had at Penrith, I didn't think I needed to go through some more games," he said.

"I was actually looking forward to a break, but I had to cut that short. People don't get opportunities to play for Australia often. I feel bad for going against my word, but it is what it is."

Campbell-Gillard has been impressive in three straight appearances for the Kangaroos since his debut against France earlier in the tournament.

However he says his lone Test for the Bati was just as memorable as his Australia debut, having completed his dream of playing alongside childhood hero Petero Civoniceva.

Campbell-Gillard was still climbing the Panthers' junior ranks during Civoniceva's three years with Penrith between 2008-11, and is now a Fiji team official.

"I got to play with Petero. He's been my idol my whole life," Campbell-Gillard said.

"It probably wasn't the start (of my career). It was just a game that I wanted to play because Petero was playing. That was one game I'll never forget. Playing with Petero was unbelievable."

Fiji plays Australia in the first semifinal at 10pm (Fiji Time) on Friday at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

This will be the third consecutive time the two nations will meet in a Rugby League World Cup semifinal.

Australia won their semifinal clash against the Fijians 52-0 in 2008 and 64-0 in 2013.

By Reginald Chandar

 


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