Steve Mascord, NRL.com
WHO knows? Anthony Watmough might be right about Josh Reynolds and every other player in the comp hating him.
But in a grand final week that threatens to be particularly anodyne, journalists love the unaffected 23-year-old Canterbury five-eighth. He’d win any popularity contest in the press box, hands down.
Watmough told Reynolds at a scrum on the first night of the finals: "You do dumb shit, no wonder everyone hates you ... everyone hates you, you idiot."
In a media huddle at ANZ Stadium after Saturday night’s 32-8 preliminary final win against the Rabbitohs, Reynolds was asked by a reporter if he would be able to find an opposition player who actually didn’t mind him.
“I hope so, there might be a few,” he laughed. “I’ll keep an eye out, see how I go.”
The next afternoon on radio, he reckoned he had spent the morning ringing around, looking for support among his fellow professionals.
“I made a few calls – they haven’t picked up unfortunately,” he said, chuckling.
Perhaps what rankles the pivot’s rivals is what Petero Civoniceva’s Australian teammates once saw in Kiwi enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves - a 'lack of respect'.
Reynolds behaves like he has been in first grade for years – and that it’s no big deal. His irreverence carries off the field, where he refuses to be a cliché-spewing automaton even in a week in which coaches want their players to be exactly that. Reynolds doesn’t respect the credo of saying nothing in interviews – and he is smart enough to get away with being interesting without it causing him any grief, while others try to honour a mental list of what the coach doesn’t want them to say.
Josh isn’t flying under the radar. He’s not going over it either. He seems to disbelieve that the radar even exists.
“It’s been an adjustment – obviously your life changes when you’re playing in the top grade,” he says.
“But I’ve always said that if it ever did happen, I wanted to stay the same person. There are people out there who … it might go to their heads. I don’t know what for.
“Obviously it’s a great thing. You walk down the street and a kid comes up to you and you can put a smile on his face for the rest of the week.
“It’s definitely a privilege and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
As a youngster himself living in Belmore, Reynolds supported Sydney Roosters. No one in his family supports the Bulldogs and when I suggested on air he might like to spend Sunday morning scalping his ticket allotment, he agreed it sounded like a good idea.
But he recalls: “In 2004 when they made the grand final, I actually went down to Belmore and there were people on the roofs of the shops, people in the back of utes, going crazy.
“It’s going to be a big week and I can’t wait.”
Last Saturday night, he said, he saw it again – from a different perspective.
“It was unbelievable. I had mum and dad calling me, saying ‘are you sweet to get home?’ because I only live up the road and people were going crazy.
“We drove through there – the bus – and it was great. It’s great to see the support we’ve got.”
Reynolds is already being spoken about as a future NSW half; maybe one day he’ll even partner his unrelated South Sydney namesake at representative level.
There’s 16 new friends, straight away.