Bulldogs stance personal for Reynolds
It's just about the only time Josh Reynolds has felt ashamed of where he comes from.
Moments before the Bulldogs took to the streets of Lakemba on Tuesday to march in support of stopping violence against women, CEO Raelene Castle sat the team down at its Belmore base and unleashed a statistic that hit Reynolds harder than any hitman in the league possibly could.
"She was saying that Bankstown has the highest rate of domestic violence against women in the whole of New South Wales. That's pretty bad," Reynolds told NRL.com.
"That hit me because I live in this area. I have for ages. It got me thinking – it might not happen to you or your family, but it could be happening to one of your mates or your aunty. It's a very serious thing and we've got to sit back and realise that it's not on."
Last week the family club became the first professional sporting organisation in Australia to sign with White Ribbon as a major community partner for the next three years. Their entire playing roster took on the White Ribbon Oath, swearing never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
While the education of the young man's society continues, it's come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Reynolds revealed that he now has a better understanding of the tell-tale signs than he did as a youngster in one of the most prevalent areas for violence against women in the state.
"I probably did know of someone, to tell you the truth," Reynolds admitted.
"You always hear about it, or you might see a woman with a bit of a mark on her face, and you'd always wonder. But now you put the pieces of the puzzle together and that's what's happened. Back then, it probably wasn't out in the open as it is now.
"That's what we need to do: Get it out in the open, show men that's it not on, and just realise that it's just one of those things – if you do it, you're going to get in trouble."
Prop Aiden Tolman, a White Ribbon ambassador, said violence against women was simply unacceptable – no matter where it occurred.
"Any violence against women is unacceptable, whether it's here in Bankstown or other communities around Australia and the world," he said.
"It's not acceptable and it's why we're here to support this organisation particularly around this area, because we're seen a lot. It's not good enough.
"The Bulldogs are a very big community club. They like to pride themselves on being in the community and doing all that work with their fans and supporters. This is just another one of the initiatives that the players are getting on board with."
Last week the NRL suspended Rabbitohs centre Kirisome Auva'a indefinitely after an incident in January that resulted in Auva'a pleading guilty to charges of recklessly causing injury.
Tolman re-iterated that his personal "stance on violence against women is none".
"That's the No.1 message we want to get out there. Any violence against women is unacceptable. Here as players and as a club, we're standing up against that," he continued.
"White Ribbon is a male-led organisation leading the fight against violence against women. It's about having the tools to talk to each other and say, 'Enough's enough.'
"In terms of rugby league, incidents happen and it's unfortunate. That's why the NRL's there and they've got an Integrity Unit to make sure that the outcome is best for both parties."