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Lachlan Campbell (left) and Reece Baker after winning the 2022 XXXX 47th Battalion for Rockhampton.

Lachlan Campbell never wanted to play for the Rocky Rustlers for personal glory or accolades.

For years he knocked back opportunities to go to the representative level, first as he turned his attention more towards rugby union, then as he deemed himself “too old” to wear the Rockhampton jersey.

But this year the 29-year-old decided to give it a go.

His reasons were simple. Firstly, he wanted to play alongside his cousin, Reece Baker, at the XXXX 47th Battalion carnival. Secondly, he wanted to help the next generation and be within that team environment. And finally, perhaps his only selfish reason, was because he realised being “too old” meant he might not get this opportunity again.

Campbell was part of the Rockhampton team that made history at this year’s XXXX 47th Battalion, causing major upsets to take out their first title.

And this Saturday, June 18, he will pull on that jersey once again to represent his city, and the entire Central region, in the XXXX League Championship semi-final against Townsville.

After all this time, he certainly has no regrets over his decision to finally join the Rustlers.

Lachlan Campbell (left) and Reece Baker after winning the 2022 XXXX 47th Battalion for Rockhampton.
Lachlan Campbell (left) and Reece Baker after winning the 2022 XXXX 47th Battalion for Rockhampton.

“It’s meant a fair bit,” Campbell said of his representative opportunities this year.

“You hear the older fellas and the blokes that have played in the team before and what they say about it. It was a pretty proud moment to represent the Rustlers myself.

“My cousin was playing in the 47th Battalion, Reece Baker, and he was the captain of the side through the competition, so I was pretty keen to play with him again.

“I also thought I don’t know how much longer I have to play footy and I wanted to give it a crack before I hung up my boots for good.

“To now go that next step, it would mean a lot to the boys. We have a lot of younger fellas there on the fringe of playing Cup. They’re trying to make a living out of playing footy. It’s a great stepping stone for them.

“I love being around the team and seeing how everyone digs in and helps each other out. It drives you to do more knowing you’re playing for 17 other blokes and a coach and coaching staff that put in a lot of time and effort.”

Campbell’s Rustlers coach, Jason Green, said he had always wondered why the Rockhampton Brothers captain had shied away from representative opportunities in the past.

But with Campbell’s focus now purely back on rugby league, having stepped away from union, Green said he brought all of the attributes to the team he was always capable of.

“He’s a great leader and a quality footy player,” Green said.

“Lachie’s a high-end competitor and he’ll bring passion and desire in showing what it means to represent the jersey and to play for his region and his town.

“He’s also very humbled and overawed by the experience. He’s one quality human.”

Campbell with his dad, Jim.
Campbell with his dad, Jim.

Campbell grew up in the small town of Wandoan, northeast of Roma, with his older brother and younger sister.

He played rugby league from a young age and was supported his parents, especially his father Jim, who he calls his greatest influence in life.

“My old boy, he was the first person to really teach me and show me the love of football,” Campbell said.

“He taught me how to catch a ball, coached my junior sides, drove me around the countryside and still comes to every game he can.

“He’ll absolutely be there on Saturday.”

Campbell then moved to Rockhampton when he was 14 and when he graduated high school, he was approached to play rugby union for a local club.

Then six years ago, as he prepared to make a return to rugby league, he ruptured his ACL in a touch football match.

Campbell with his Rockhampton Brothers teammates.
Campbell with his Rockhampton Brothers teammates.

Campbell has achieved a lot in the game, including being named captain of Brothers and winning grand finals with his club, but he said this was the biggest challenge he'd faced.

“I always watched rugby league and always loved it growing up,” Campbell said.

“I wanted to come back, it was just a matter of time.

“I did my ACL in the first year I came back to play… that set me back a year. It was pretty rough. I had to have the surgery and then there was the recovery.

“I had a year off footy and it was a fairly rough road back with the recovery and just trying not to think about your knee too much when you’re coming back. When I came back I eased into it slowly.”

This is partly what Campbell, who is a glazier away from the field, means about deeming himself too old for representative football. While he actually is the oldest player in the A grade team at Brothers, he is far from “old” in the greater rugby league arena.

But the second rower did need those representative weekends off in the past to allow his body to heal from the rigours of daily work and weekly football.

And as he learnt at this year’s XXXX 47th Battalion – playing three matches in two days – rep footy was a tough slog.

Campbell up against the Yeppoon Seagulls. Photo: Leanne Booth/QRL
Campbell up against the Yeppoon Seagulls. Photo: Leanne Booth/QRL

Thankfully this Saturday will just be one match.

Eighty minutes for Campbell and his Rocky teammates to represent the Central region and to try to overcome a strong Townsville side.

One chance to move on to the XXXX League Championship final against the Gold Coast next month.

Campbell knows it’s going to be a big ask.

But this is why he finally took up representative football – to play for his town and to play for his teammates.

“It’s only one game this time but it will be a full 80 minutes and Townsville are going to be big and strong and hard to take on,” Campbell said.

“But I reckon we’ll be able to do it.

“Rockhampton as a region is a really proud rugby league area. Every time you represent an area like this, it’s a big moment for everyone.

“This team became really tight-knit straight away and that’s even more rewarding when you make mates straight away… to win and celebrate together is a great feeling.

“Personal achievements don’t mean much if your team’s not going well. It means a lot more when your team does it together.”

 

The XXXX League Championship semi-final will be livestreamed exclusively on QPlus.tv. Try a Round Pass for just $4.99.

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours 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.

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