Reynolds cops online heat

Josh Reynolds stands on the cusp of a rare Origin and premiership double triumph, and the Bulldogs five-eighth has revealed his family has been targeted on social media amongst the barrage of criticism that he has copped in recent months.

Like a parking inspector who does the rounds out the front of his local welfare office, Reynolds has seen his fair share of abuse and four letter words over his three years in the NRL big time. 

But ever since that lifting tackle on Brent Tate in Origin I, it seems like not a week has gone by without Reynolds copping it from all corners, particularly via social media.

Typically it's water off a duck's back for a bloke who proudly answers to the nickname 'Grub'.

But what has stung the 25-year-old is the abuse directed at members of his family, with his mum Nicole understandably upset at being targeted by trolls and keyboard warriors.

Reynolds is reluctant to draw attention to the drama, but admits it has taken its toll on his family. 

"At stages there were things said that weren't on but that's life... that's the joys of social media," Reynolds told reporters after the Bulldogs had qualified for Sunday's premiership decider against Souths.

"It's a crazy world out there. But if anything it probably brought us together. I'd say to my mum 'you can't worry'.

"I was trying to show my feelings that it didn't worry me. She was worried for me. So I was trying to be strong for her.

"Say whatever you want to me, I only go off what my family and friends think of me, and they were all sticking by me."

As the Bulldogs slumped to six losses in their last eight games of the regular season and limped into the finals series, the magnifying glass was swung firmly onto the form of Reynolds and halves partner Trent Hodkinson as they struggled to recapture the from that had led NSW to a historic Origin series win. 

The truth is Reynolds was hardly sighted during that period, as two suspensions for unruly play rubbed him out for a combined six weeks across the back end of the season. Reynolds accepts that he had to dial down the combative approach that landed him on report three times in the space of a month, but bristles at the suggestion that the success he enjoyed with the Blues went to his head.

"People were saying that I was getting a big head, I don't know where that was coming from," Reynolds said. 

"Origin was such a massive high, especially to win it in our first one. That was massive. But the thing that hurt me the most was [people] saying that I've changed as a person. 

"Whereas for myself, I felt as if anything a lot more people took pride in who I was. I was giving back. I love seeing little kids when NSW were winning – it was such a great feeling. 

"It's funny, I'd look at the paper sometimes and I'd see 'form slum', and I'd played two out of eight games. Those two games, yeah, they weren't my best games, I'm not going to lie.

"But you've got to cop it. I think it's made myself and Trent better people. I've got some thick skin now. I've learnt to deal with (criticism) if it comes around again."

Like so many who get to play the game they love for a living, the paddock became Reynolds' happy place. So not being able to set foot on it each weekend stung.

"For me football's the outlet," said Reynolds. 

"I'd come into training and see all these boys and that's when your mind's off it. You've got your mates there and they make you laugh and that's what happened with me. 

“I really loved coming into training... but I wasn't playing and that's what hurt me the most. I wasn't able to rip in with these boys and I felt like I let them down."

And as he prepares for his second grand final appearance in three years, Reynolds is deservedly proud of the both the Bulldogs' resurgence and his own personal return to form.

"I feel in myself I can hold my head high, I really do," he says.

"As a person I feel I've moved forward and I've moved past that stuff. Everyone here has made mistakes and it's not about how hard you get knocked down, it's how you get back up."