Reynolds a certain starter for Bulldogs
Despite enduring surgery and extensive rehab on his left shoulder and taking no part in any of the Bulldogs' trials, five-eighth Josh Reynolds has ruled himself a certain starter to play Penrith on Sunday.
Having gone through the exact same surgery on his right shoulder before last season, Reynolds is completely confident in his shoulder following a more mature approach to his rehab than the one completed just 12 months ago.
"[My shoulder rehab was] a long process and the pre-season was a time where I had to fight a few demons, but I've done the process before too which I think worked in my favour," Reynolds said.
"I've definitely matured from my last surgery and rehab because it's not a thing to take lightly. I have more range in the new one and that's due to me rehabbing better this time around. I taught myself a lesson from the last one.
"It's come out really good and I'm happy with the way it's panned out. Plus I've done a couple of in-house opposed sessions with full contact and I've done a bit of one v one training with the bigger boys and it just feels like a normal shoulder.
"The biggest thing is probably, in the back of your head, you're always second guessing whether it'll be okay but everything is going good."
Of concern for the Bulldogs however is the fact Reynolds and halves partner Trent Hodkinson haven't had much time on the paddock together leading into their season opener at Peppers Stadium.
Hodkinson, who underwent knee surgery and rehab over the off-season, managed to play the Bulldogs' last trial in Melbourne without his partner in crime, yet Reynolds is confident they know each other's games well enough to be successful straight away.
"We haven't had as much time as we would've liked. We are both coming back from surgery but in saying that we know how each other plays," Reynolds said.
"Playing last year at both club and Origin, I've come to know how he'll play and what he's good at and vice-versa."
With Michael Ennis departing to the Sharks, Reynolds and Hodkinson are currently focused on getting their combinations working with new recruits, fullback Brett Morris and hooker Michael Lichaa.
It is still unclear if Lichaa will play the entire 80 minutes at hooker or if coach Des Hasler will use Moses Mbye on the bench as cover for the young rake.
"I know people have said that he has big shoes to fill in Mick [Ennis] but he has made it very clear that he's his own man which is good because you don't want to always be known as someone's understudy or referred to as someone else," Reynolds said.
"He's come here with a great attitude, and I know with Trent, myself and B Moz, we have been able to delve into the little things which we need to do for the year because we are the spine of the team and we need to be firing week-in, week-out for the boys to move forward.
"As a bloke, Lich is great. He has fit in here very well and I can't wait for him to get a run on Saturday. I'm pretty sure he could go the 80 minutes, he's a great little player."