Schmidt in the house for Campbell's Roma masterclass

Sun, Feb 11, 2024, 9:42 PM
Murray Wenzel - AAP
by Murray Wenzel - AAP
Jock Campbell has made his mark in their final trial of 2024. Photo: Getty Images
Jock Campbell has made his mark in their final trial of 2024. Photo: Getty Images

Jock Campbell knew he wasn't Eddie Jones' type but also that he wasn't playing well enough to warrant another Test crack anyway.

It's a "clean slate" now under new Wallabies mentor Joe Schmidt, who was in the crowd in Roma to watch the Queensland Reds' fullback carve up NSW Waratahs in Saturday's Super Rugby Pacific trial.

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The fluid mover set up two tries with crisp passing and evasive running.

In between, he made a clean break from broken play to score one himself in a dominant half.

At 29-0, the game was over at the break, with Campbell substituted for Jordan Petaia in a reminder of the talent new Reds coach Les Kiss has at his disposal.

Campbell's understated style has meant he's worked for every cap as he grinded from club footy.

But he had a fan in former Reds coach Brad Thorn, who said he reminded him of Darren Lockyer and Ben Smith.

Rennie eventually saw it too and offered Campbell a chance on the 2022 spring tour, but he fell quickly off the radar under Jones' tenure.

"Eddie, you listen to him talk and the first thing he says it that he's all about big and powerful," Campbell told AAP.

"But I didn't play as good as I would have wanted to last year anyway.

"Hopefully, Les does appreciate me but I can't control what the coach likes, so I don't bother thinking about that.

"I just want to focus on the Reds winning because we've got a good roster and close isn't really good enough any more.

"That's my goal this year, see how good we can get."

Campbell watched from afar as his Reds' Test mates battled last year before Jones was eventually replaced by Schmidt after their historically poor World Cup.

"It was tumultuous as a fan and as a player, even though I wasn't in the inner sanctum like I was with Dave," said Campbell.

"I was just feeling for the guys like Jordy (Petaia) and Tate (McDermott).

"The effort they were putting in and to get those results, under a lot of pressure.

"I felt for them, I know it sucks."

He said Kiss's arrival at Ballymore to replace long-time coach Thorn had helped deal with the Wallabies pain.

"I'm not sure the change was needed, but I definitely think a new coach, everyone here's trying to impress," he said.

"You go up a level just naturally and with Eddie going it's a clean slate once again, like it was 12 months ago."

The Reds host the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium in their season-opener on February 24.

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