Of all the Glasgow Warriors players that ended Leinster’s long unbeaten record at the RDS, none had greater cause to celebrate than try-scoring lock Nick Campbell.
Just two years ago his career was under threat after suffering an ACL injury; 12 months later Campbell was making his comeback with Glasgow Hawks, albeit in the Scottish Premiership.
At the end of last season, Campbell watched Leinster defeat Northampton in the Heineken Cup final, never thinking that he would be the man that would help end a 28-game winning streak at the RDS.
The 21-year-old crossed in the first half of the Warriors’ 23-19 victory – their first RaboDirect Pro12 victory of the season – and admits he still coming to terms with his rollercoaster ride.
He said: “I can clearly remember watching Leinster in the Heineken Cup final and never imagined I would be playing against and beating them just a couple of months later.
“This time last year I would have never have thought I would be here but the Warriors have helped my development tremendously.
“I have had to a lot of rehab since then to get back from the ACL. There have been a lot of hours in the gym and with the physio and it was very hard at times.
“It all becomes worthwhile on nights like Leinster. That’s what all the rehab was for. Although it was a difficult period, it is that thought of being able to play at this level which drives you on.”
Despite enjoying a quiet night out at Dublin, the celebrations did not last long before thoughts turned to their next assignment: Treviso at Firhill on Friday night.
Winning at the RDS is one thing, but Campbell says the priority is always winning in front of their own fans, particularly as the club are running a United Colours For Benetton campaign to encourage supporters to wear their local club and school jerseys to Firhill.
“We have yet to win at home and that’s something we desperately want to do in front of our own fans,” Campbell added.
“The club are making a big push to get as many supporters turning up in different colours because the Warriors embrace many different clubs and schools and they play a huge part in the region’s identity.
“There are no easy games in the RaboDirect Pro12 but having played the current champions Munster and the Heineken Cup holders it shows we can compete with the best.
“It has given us confidence to perform at that level but we really need to kick on from that.
“We were really happy with the win particularly after the start we had made but now we are focussed on Treviso.
“They pose a different threat and have a much more physical pack so we have to knuckle down. We enjoyed a night in Dublin but it was nothing too serious. Everyone is happy to have won but it means nothing unless we back that up.”
Currently Campbell is partnering Tom Ryder, the former Saracens lock, in the second row with Richie Gray and Alastair Kellock on international duty.
But despite their absence, Campbell revealed the Scotland duo have had a huge influence on his breakthrough season with the Warriors.
He said: “Alastair was my mentor last year. He took me outside of training and gave me advice about what he went through at the same time in his career.
“It is really good to know someone like that has experienced what I have.
“I have known Richie since our schooldays and I can always ask him for advice as well. All the senior players help out so it is a really good environment to be in.
“I am lucky to have two world-class locks at the club I can learn from and model my own game on.
“I came through at the same time as Richie who has done fantastically well to kick on the way he has.
“Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t been injured but it is more important for me to be focussed on what I can do now.”