SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 01: Reagan Campbell-Gillard poses before a New South Wales State of Origin training session at Coogee Oval on June 1, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The Panthers landed a huge retention coup during the week when they announced the re-signing of prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard to a monster five-year deal.

The Panthers, Blues and Kangaroos bookend put pen to a deal that will see him remain a Panther for a further five seasons past his existing contract, meaning he will stay in Penrith until at least 2024. Although monetary figures vary, it’s hard to believe RCG has signed anything but a big money deal.

At 24 year’s of age the 115kg front rower’s best footy is still in front of him. Most front rowers don’t reach peak form until the late 20s, so the Panthers rightfully paraded the new deal.

Currently out injured with a broken jaw, the rep mainstay is a vital cog in the Panthers machine as they approach the finals series. He was hugely missed in last night’s loss to Manly.

Although I certainly can’t fault the Panthers for moving heaven and earth to tie their big man down to a huge deal, any long-term deal brings with it great risk.

In this instance I think the Panthers have it right. There really is little chance his footy will deteriorate over the next five years, if anything he will get even better. RCG hasn’t been in and out with re-occurring injuries and he hasn’t had well documented off-field issues.

That said, five years is a long time, especially in Rugby League.

The Titans famously signed young fullback William Zillman to a five-year deal on the back of some incredible performances and interest from other clubs.

Although it’s unfair to compare a current Kangaroos and Blues prop to Zillman, at the time the Titans custodian was seen as a future superstar of the game and a rep candidate.

Without sinking the boot into Zillman, unfortunately it did not exactly work out that way as injuries and form fluctuations took their toll and ultimately the Titans were in a position where they were paying a decent first grader on a long-term deal.

What if RCG cops a knock which leads to a long-term injury that affects his development? Touch wood, as I am a huge RCG fan and was really saddened to see him miss Origin Two after his efforts in the first game.

As with all long-term deals, this one has plenty of risk but also plenty of reward.

Pros of the deal:

  • Done and dusted: RCG is a Panther for another six seasons (five years plus the one existing). Unless he changes his initials to SBW he can’t just walk out of the club. The Panthers now hold the power in terms of his future. If he does want to leave, the Panthers ultimately control that. They can now plan their roster around a rep front rower for a long period of time.

Security for RCG: Although some players seem to perform better in contract ending seasons, RCG comes across as the ultimate professional. His off-field life is settled now for six seasons. No need to move house or guess re potential income, it’s done. As a local junior he can represent his childhood club for potentially the rest of his career. That’s got the feel good.

Potential Cons of the deal

You just never know: Literally anything can happen between now and the end of the deal. Five years is a long, long time in this game. Injuries occur, incidents occur. Players can be twice as good, as half as good at the end of such a long stint. You just never know.

Salary Cap Pressure: The Bulldogs recent cap woes have to have other clubs on high alert. There is no secret that long-term, back ended deals have played a part in their current crisis, and certainly had a lot to do with the Manly situation also. The Panthers have a certain young, super star halfback coming off contract and will have to offer a monster deal to retain. You’d think five-years, on a million dollars plus would be an absolute minimum here. That means two players are signed to huge money, long-term deals. That could very well be a huge positive, or as the Sea Eagles and Dogs have shown, potentially shattering.

Salary Cap Increases: I have no doubt in the world RCG’s newly signed contract is for a pretty penny. He deserves it. That said, what if he becomes the game’s best big man, the salary cap doubles and he is left cursing having signed such a long-term deal. Of course there would be percentage rises tied to salary cap increases penned into the deal, although once again, you just never know.

Overall I think the deal is a huge win for club and player. If I were the Panthers I would have offered a similar deal. RCG looks a long-term rep mainstay. If I were RCG I would have jumped at the chance to represent my local club for another five years.

Although there are some significant risk involved with all long-term deals, I think in this case the Panthers have it spot on.

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