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'Nervous whether I'd be able to play': Wallabies debutant opens up about gym injury

By Finn Morton
Jock Campbell during an Australian Wallabies training session at Royal Pines Resort on July 27, 2022 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Wallaby Jock Campbell has opened up about the potentially devastating injury that left him “a bit nervous” last week, before he was cleared to make his Test debut.

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The Queensland Reds fullback became Wallaby number 959 on Sunday morning (AEST) after made his debut off the bench in Australia’s 16-15 win over Scotland.

With the visitors trailing by two points at Murrayfield, Campbell entered the Test rugby arena for the first time in the 67th minute – replacing Tom Banks.

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But it was an “unreal” debut that was seemingly under some threat in the leadup to the Test, after he rolled his ankle in the gym.

“Monday or Tuesday I was in the gym and just rolled my ankle, so then I obviously had to get it in the ice bucket,” Campbell told media this week.

“When the team was announced I was sitting there… obviously a bit nervous whether I’d be able to play or not.

“That night the physios said I would be fine. It was more a little bit of nervousness, and then it just turned into trying to get my ankle fully right for the game.”

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While he didn’t get the chance to carry the ball or even make a tackle during his cameo off the bench, Campbell played a part in arguably the most important play of the game.

The Wallabies had fought their way back into the lead through a Bernard Foley penalty inside the final 10 minutes.

But the lead, and the result, was seriously under threat as Scotland flyhalf Blair Kinghorn lined up a penalty of his own in the final minute.

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Unfortunately for Scotland and Kinghorn, he sent his attempt at goal wide left, with Campbell catching the kick in-goal.

Campbell then had a front row view of one of the smartest plays in rugby this year, as Nic White drop kicked the ball out on the bounce to bring an end to an epic Test.

“I caught the kick, so I gave the ball to him and he had a little discussion on what he was going to do and I thought it was the right option if executed well, which he did,” he said.

“It was a pretty big play… that was a pretty spectacular kick if I’m honest.”

But a win is a win, and for sure it’s a debut that Campbell will never forgot – having immortalised his name into Australian rugby history as the 959th person to don Wallaby gold.

Their five-match spring tour continues with a trip to Stade de France to take on World No. 2 Les Bleus on Sunday morning (AEST).

France are one of the form teams of the world, and Australian second rower Will Skelton has labelled them the favourites for next year’s World Cup.

“Yeah probably, they’re at home. I guess being favourites as well, but at home they’ve got a lot of pressure on them,” Skelton said.

“We’re worried about this Autumn series now, the end-of-year tour at the moment so I’m not too fussed about the World Cup at the moment.

“Looking ahead, yeah probably them. I think they’re ranked second in the world, Ireland number one.

“This is a great tour for us and also probably where we can lay out foundation for next year.”

Australia are also set to test themselves against Italy, Ireland and Wales before their 2022 campaign comes to an end.

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