A revved-up Reagan Campbell-Gillard will be the headline attraction when Penrith face Parramatta in the NRL rivals’ first legitimate top-four showdown.
Never in Penrith’s 53-year first-grade history have the fierce western Sydney rivals clashed while both sides have occupied two of the top three spots on the ladder.
And this one is sure to come with plenty of feeling, with Campbell-Gillard among four ex-Panthers to wear the blue and gold.
The former Kangaroos’ star was considered a future cornerstone of the Penrith pack when he signed a five-year extension at the end of 2018.
But he fell out of favour last year with new coach Ivan Cleary, spending the majority of the season coming off the bench before being released to the Eels.
Panthers forward Isaah Yeo, who had roomed with ‘Reg’ on road trips over the past three years, is happy his ex-teammate is thriving under coach Brad Arthur.
“I’m sure he’ll want to have a big game against us. I guess that’s up to him, how he wants to prepare for that,” Yeo told AAP.
“I’m really close with him, still keep in contact with him now, and he was letting me know that he was at least talking (about moving).
“It was obviously disappointing when someone you’ve come through with in the (under) 20s, he was probably one of the first people I met when I first come down here.
“You never like seeing one of your better mates who you’ve played with for so long leave, but that’s just the way NRL is and he’s found a new lease of life there.
“He’s back to up there with his best form.”
The Friday night clash pits the first-placed Eels against the plucky Panthers, who are also undefeated and get star halfback Nathan Cleary back from suspension.
The two teams, along with Newcastle, are the only teams yet to taste defeat this season after Penrith’s 26-0 Friday shutout of the Warriors.
The Eels were the beneficiary of an incorrect forward-pass call which could’ve led to a game-winning try to Manly and, instead, won by three.
Kalyn Ponga returned from a one-game ban to inspire and, with rookie centre Bradman Best, led the Knights to a 34-18 upset of Canberra.
In other games in round four, Brisbane suffered the heaviest defeat in club history in a 59-0 humiliation at the hands of defending premiers the Sydney Roosters.
Melbourne kept their perfect home record against South Sydney intact with a 22-8 victory, while Cronulla overcame a biosecurity scare to beat North Queensland.
Gold Coast scored in the 78th minute to steal a five-point win over the Wests Tigers for their first victory in almost a year.
The position of St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor also hangs in the balance after the Dragons’ tryless 22-2 loss to Canterbury.