Shoulder injury adds to Reynolds' heartache
Two years ago they huddled after the siren and pleaded with each other to bottle the heartbreak of grand final defeat. So Josh Reynolds did. He bottled it up, labelled it 'To Use On Grand Final Day', and saved it for a week such as this.
But never has the pain of defeat tasted so bitter.
"It's just so hard because you've been through it all before. You can say bottle it all up and save it, but we've already been through that," Reynolds said.
"It's so hard, especially because we've got a guy like Mick leaving. I just really wanted to do it for him, but it wasn't our day."
Reynolds described the pain of Sunday night's 30-6 grand final defeat to South Sydney as worse than the sting that came with the loss he felt against Melbourne two years.
The Bulldogs five-eighth, who looks to have also suffered a serious left shoulder injury, cut a broken figure post-game as he came to grips with a second grand final loss in three years.
"It probably is [tougher], yeah. Just because we worked so hard, we had so much belief," he said.
"Everyone says that we're a tight-knit group and whatever, but I don't call these blokes my team-mates, I actually call them family. I really do. Every time I see them, I get that feeling of, 'I can't let 'em down'.
"And that's why it's so hard. Everyone goes through the same thing, but I know everyone really wants to do it for each other."
Reynolds emerged from the dressing sheds with his arm in a sling and revealed he had hurt his shoulder in the early stages of Sunday night's contest.
The NSW Origin No. 6, who underwent a shoulder reconstruction last summer and missed the City-Country fixture this year with the same injury, made 23 tackles and missed just one.
"I don't want it to sound like a sob story, but I did it pretty early. I've felt it before... fingers crossed it's not as bad. It's probably not good. I can try and be positive, but I don't know with this one," he said.
Asked if he heard a pop, he said: "Yeah I think I might've. I felt that feeling before so I'm pretty sure it might've been broken. But like I said, there's no excuse. I don't want anyone to think that this was anything because I'd do anything for those boys any day of the week," he said.
But the physical hurt seemed second to the emotional one for the Bulldogs star, who spoke openly about his desire savour grand final victory for his injured skipper.
The two engaged in a long embrace on the sideline when Reynolds raced over to Ennis moments just before kick-off.
"He's my best mate. He just asked me to be his new daughter's godfather the other day. That just shows how close we really are. I just really wanted to do it for him," he said.
"We couldn't get it done, but it's probably what hurts really more. I knew we'd love to send him off because he's done so much for us and this club. It's hard to cop."