Tough Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds has revealed his soft side, declaring he feels sorry for Monday night opponents Cronulla in the wake of their latest drama - losing prop Andrew Fifita to his club from next year.
"To tell you the truth, it's a bit tough. I think it'd be a bit tough for the Sharks at the moment," Reynolds told NRL.com.
And while Reynolds might be snickering behind closed doors about the attraction of adding the hottest front-rower in the game to a forward pack that already littered with representative stars, his commiserations were as genuine as his infectious grin.
To that effect, we can't help but agree. There's that little bit in all of us that's feeling sorry for Cronulla at the moment. It's been more than 12 months now since Australian Sporting Armageddon fell upon us; hearing of Sharks star Andrew Fifita's defection to Belmore in November just adds to it.
It kind of makes you wonder how exactly now-banned coach Shane Flanagan managed to point his players in the direction of the finals last year, given the litany off-field distractions swirling around the club.
And it's no wonder Reynolds is feeling a little sorry for the Sharks right now.
Speaking primarily on normal issues, like the problematic mid-season announcement of transfers, Reynolds is of the belief that the heads of the Shiremen would be spinning more than they usually are in March.
"Obviously, I don't think it'll happen with Andrew, but with the players, their minds might be elsewhere, thinking about the next year," Reynolds said.
"But I'm not too sure what the NRL are going to do about it, whether they're going to stop it [transfer window]. I just think they should announce it a bit later in the season."
His own club, the Bulldogs, face a salary cap battle of their own. Two of their most important cogs – Josh Morris and James Graham – are still yet to re-sign, while they're still on the lookout for an all-important superstar fullback following Ben Barba's exit last year, despite the continual promise that Sam Perrett is the man to fill the spot.
Perrett himself was hopeful, rather than confident, that his young brother Lloyd wouldn't be turned away when putting his hand up for an NRL contract at the club as well.
"I'm not worried. Not at all," Perrett said. "Lloyd's talented himself. He's a young fella coming through and he's working hard. I have no doubt that he's got the ability and the intelligence and skills to get his opportunity, you know? Wherever it may be. Hopefully it'll be here but I've got no doubt in his ability."
But if he does leave, Perrett says, you've just got to cop it on the chin. As someone who also had to leave a club he played his first nine seasons for, the former Rooster understands that there is little thought for those who don't treat the game for the business it is.
"That's just the nature of our game. You have some pretty close teammates, guys that you grow really close to and you love a lot, but they need to take opportunities elsewhere sometimes," he said. "It's happened to me, it's happened to most of the experienced players. That's just the nature of the game, whatever happens, it's all good and it's all gonna be for the best."
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