In-form Reynolds stakes Origin claim
When most 24-year-olds wake up after a 'huge' Friday night, it's usually to a pounding headache, a whiff of garlic sauce on the breath and trying to remember exactly what they had gotten up to the night before.
For Josh Reynolds, kicking his first-ever field goal, a try-saving tackle and bragging rights over opposite number James Maloney meant he woke up on Saturday as the front-runner in the battle for the NSW five-eighth position.
On a dog's breakfast of a night at Allianz Stadium, when persistent rain should've rendered the little men to 'seen but not heard' status as the big boppers slugged it out, it was Reynolds who proved the difference as the Bulldogs triumphed 9-8 over the premiers.
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While it was Reynolds' 70th minute field goal – the first the Canterbury product has kicked in his entire footballing life – that clinched the result for the Dogs, it was his 57th minute try-saving tackle on a flying Daniel Tupou that kept the blue and whites in the match.
Throw in two tackle breaks, 51 running metres and a points decision in an entertaining running battle with Blues incumbent Maloney (35 running metres, one tackle break and two errors) and Reynolds certainly had a night to remember.
Add this starring role in the Bulldogs win to the six try-assists and five line break assists he's already registered this year and the scrappy five-eighth confirms not only is he tailor-made for Origin, he's ready to start on rugby league's biggest stage.
It's still seven weeks until the series opener at Suncorp Stadium but Bulldogs fullback Sam Perrett says Reynolds is ready to graduate from his utility role of 2013 into the NSW No.6 jumper.
"He’s definitely ready if it comes to him," says Perrett, who also starred in the Bulldogs’ gritty win.
"Josh has been in great form. He’s making some killer plays both in attack and defence as we saw tonight, like getting Daniel Tupou over the sideline; that basically saved us the game.
"He wouldn’t be out of place at all in the starting jersey."
Anyone who nails their first attempt at a field goal, ever, with a win over the reigning premiers on the line is bound to look good in the sky blue.
"I don’t think I’ve even attempted one," gushed an incredulous Reynolds after match.
"[That was] my first ever field goal in footy. Ever. Not even in juniors, I’ve never, ever kicked one.
"I don't even think I've hit one at training to tell you the truth so when it left the foot alright I was about surprised. I got lucky."
While Reynolds may have been thanking his lucky stars, he also reserved some gratitude for his teammates who stoically repelled the Roosters attack after the five-eighth gave away a penalty deep in the Bulldogs own half.
"It's one of those things where the boys are digging deep for each other," said Reynolds.
"Whether there's a penalty all the way up the other end or right near our try line that's one of our big focuses this year so it's a great thing to have that belief."
Reynolds did admit his surprise as the Roosters turned down a simple shot at goal for his 68th minute infringement, but proved himself a more than capable alternative when Sonny Bill Williams shot out of the line to scupper Trent Hodkinson's attempt at a field goal.
"Our forwards rolled all the way down there as they did all night and I thought Trent was going to pot it and he got a bit of pressure and passed it to me and like I said, I think I got lucky," Reynolds said.
"I was ready for it because I saw Sonny going for him, and he passed it to me and I just tried to stay as composed as I could. I was probably a bit excited, because I wanted to kick it. But it's a good feeling."