Greg Prichard,, NRL.com
South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds is making a point of not complaining about being battered by late hits from the opposition as the Rabbitohs prepare to try to maintain their unbeaten record in Sunday's game against Penrith at Centrebet Stadium.
Reynolds is wearing plenty of reminders of how tough the first two rounds have been for him and how big a target he has become in the NRL. He has had so many stitches inserted in his head his teammates are calling him ‘Zipperface’ at training.
But the 22-year-old didn't have any complaints when asked about the situation. He clearly doesn't want to appear "soft" by whinging about the treatment, and – contrary to reports from other media – he doesn't want to draw any more attention to himself from opposition teams by making a big deal out of it.
Asked about the extra attention he is receiving from the opposition, Reynolds replied: "First two games I've copped a few late tackles and stuff. I sort of expected it. Second year in, everyone's aware of what's going on and they try to put you off your game a bit more.
"I'm well aware of it, but that's footy. You've just got to get on with it."
Reynolds said he wasn't looking for extra protection from the referees.
"Not at all," he told NRL.com. "It's part of footy. You cop whacks and you've just got to get up and keep playing. Everyone in the team cops whacks, and it doesn't matter if you're a front-rower or a halfback.
"If you play in the line you're going to get whacked. It's just part of the game and you have to get on with playing."
Reynolds has drawn particular attention to himself with his superb kicking game in the first two rounds. He has produced a high level of accuracy with his clearing kicks, his kicks to wingers and particularly his grubber kicks into the in-goal.
Reynolds has already put ball to boot the second most times in the competition (26); consequently the Rabbitohs have been a constant threat of either scoring off his grubbers or getting the next-best result – a repeat set, by trapping the opposition in-goal.
Reynolds has been talked about as a potential NSW halfback as early as this year, despite it being only his second in first grade. He admits he would love to play State of Origin in the future, but says the talk isn't distracting him from concentrating on his job.
"I'm just worried about winning games with Souths and playing good footy," he said. "If I can keep playing good footy, hopefully it will lead to something down the track."
Souths were dominant in their 28-10 win over Sydney Roosters in Round 1, but after establishing a 12-0 lead early against Cronulla last Monday night they bumbled their way through the rest of the game and only narrowly survived to win 14-12.
In the past, they would have gleefully accepted such a win regardless of the nature of it, but after making it through to the preliminary finals last season they are a different team with higher standards, and Reynolds said their performance against the Sharks was unacceptable.
"We got away from the game plan and our defence wasn't up to scratch," he said. "We're working on improving at training this week. We just want to get back to our game plan against Penrith. We fell away from it against the Sharks and we weren't too happy with our performance."
Reynolds said that while the Panthers offered threats Souths would have to be specific about containing, it was still more about the Rabbitohs getting their own house in order.
"We have to work on our own game more than anything this week," he said. "We have to get back to the basics."
Kicking is one of the great strengths Reynolds has in his game, and he will be coming up against another halfback who is terrific with the ball off the boot in Penrith's Luke Walsh. The success or otherwise the two players have with their kicking will have a big effect on the result.
Reynolds said the battle between two of the biggest men on the field – rival props Sam Burgess, who is returning from suspension for Souths, and Penrith's Tim Grant – should be a ripper.
"Yeah, big Timmy Grant, he's on fire at the moment," Reynolds said. "He's a good player. I'm sure Sammy will be looking forward to the clash."