|Full name||Preston Campbell|
|Born||7 June 1977|
Inverell, New South Wales, Australia
|Height||167 cm (5 ft 6 in)|
|Weight||73 kg (11 st 7 lb)|
|Position||Five-eighth, Fullback, Halfback, Wing|
Preston Campbell, (born 7 June 1977) is an Indigenous Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played for the Gold Coast Titans of the National Rugby League. A New South Wales Country and Indigenous Dreamtime team representative five-eighth or fullback, he previously played for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks before moving to the Penrith Panthers with whom he won the 2003 NRL Premiership.
Campbell was born in Inverell, New South Wales, and started his rugby league career with the Inverell Hawks junior club. He made his NRL debut with the Gold Coast Chargers in 1998 as a fullback. The Chargers were disbanded at the end of the season.
Preston moved on to play for the Cronulla Sharks in 1999. He spent the first two seasons biding his time in reserve grade and occasionally filling in for injuries in first grade. It was in 2001 that he showed what he was capable of with his feats as a replacement fullback for the injured David Peachey. His electrifying speed and side-step combined with his diminutive stature and humility quickly endeared him to Cronulla fans.
It was expected by some that he would eventually return to the lower grades until he was needed again but coach John Lang had other ideas. Clearly Campbell was too talented to be wasted playing in reserve grade. With the return of David Peachey, he was no longer needed at fullback and Cronulla was struggling without a recognised halfback. Finding the solution to two problems Lang pencilled in Campbell for the halfback role. Combining with David Peachey and pivot Adam Dykes, the trio formed a devastating combination on the field as Cronulla pushed forward and made a serious bid for its 2001 finals campaign including one memorable game when Premiership favourites the Newcastle Knights were soundly beaten by the Sharks.
In 2002, with the arrival of new coach Chris Anderson and former Test halfback Brett Kimmorley at the club, he was overlooked for his preferred halfback role in place of Kimmorley. He was instead moved to the unfamiliar position of hooker. After several disastrous games and seemingly very little interest in playing, he was dropped to reserve grade and, stating his desire to return to the position he had made his own, requested a release from Cronulla which was eventually granted in early August 2002.
On 7 August 2002, it was announced that Campbell had agreed to terms with the Penrith Panthers (then under the guidance of his former mentor, John Lang) for a three-year term. Although Campbell had been given no guarantees on which position he would play, he said that he was looking forward to playing under John Lang once more.
In his first season with the Penrith Panthers in 2003, and back in his more familiar role at halfback/five-eighth, he proved to be a great asset to the team, playing every minute of every match for the entire season.
Campbell played at five-eighth in the 2003 NRL grand final-winning Panthers team, kicking two goals. As 2003 NRL premiers, the Panthers travelled to England to face Super League VIII champions, the Bradford Bulls in the 2004 World Club Challenge. Campbell played at five-eighth, missing his sole goal kick in the Panthers' 22-4 loss.
Gold Coast Titans
In 2005, with two seasons still to play with the Panthers, Campbell was the inaugural signing for the newly admitted NRL club, Gold Coast Titans. Campbell signed a three-year contract which commenced in 2007. Due to injury to other players such as Chris Walker, Campbell spent much of the 2007 season at fullback.
Campbell had been playing well during the 2007 season and started the 2008 season in good form. He extended his contract with the Titans. He was named the 2008 Gold Coast Titans player of the year for his consistent and inspiring performances throughout the year. In 2009 he played halfback, five-eighth and fullback due to the injuries to players such as Scott Prince and Mat Rogers.
Campbell retired at the end of the 2011 season.
In November 2008, Campbell was awarded the Ken Stephen Medal by the NRL at the One Community Awards for his tireless work with Indigenous communities. The award is given for outstanding service to the game, on and off the field.
- NRL Stats[permanent dead link]
- Yesterday's Hero Archived 26 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Badel, Peter (12 September 2010). "Preston Campbell vows to make an early call on finals return for Titans". Herald Sun. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
- "A history of heartbreak: Cronulla Sharks' tale of woe in NRL finals". www.smh.com.au.
- "Campbell may be released too late to find a new home". AAP Sports News (Australia). 8 July 2002. Archived from the original (fee required) on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2008.
- "Campbell off to the Panthers". AAP Sports News (Australia). 7 August 2002. Archived from the original (fee required) on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2008.
- "Coast hunts Bailey after nabbing Campbell". AAP Sports News (Australia). 22 June 2005. Archived from the original (fee required) on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2008.
- "Campbell takes out Ken Stephen Medal". ABC News. 14 November 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2008.
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