Josh Reynolds to be calming influence
He's the Bulldogs' livewire who has been suspended three times this year, but Josh Reynolds is ready to evolve into the calming influence to replace injured halfback Trent Hodkinson ahead of the club's elimination final against the Dragons on Saturday.
In an interrupted season where separate arm and knee injuries aligned with two of his suspensions, as well as spending a further week on the sidelines for tripping Tariq Sims in the annual Country v City clash, Reynolds is looking to become a senior player in a team chockfull of international talent.
It's not necessarily because he wants to either, but with 22-year-old halves partner Moses Mbye working his way through his first full season in the NRL, Reynolds knows he has to lift in Hodkinson's absence.
"I've been around this group of boys for four years now and Moses is young. Not hiding the fact he is great at what he does but I definitely want to take that upon myself and be – you might laugh – that calming influence on the team now," Reynolds said.
"I have had times where I've been really aggressive and energetic and come out and might not think about things too much because I always had in the back of my head that Trent would be there to calm the storm. But now he's gone.
"I won't change my game, but I'm looking to evolve into a smarter and more mature player. It's more of a balancing act, I want to be more mature than I have in the past and I want the boys to rely on me to get them around the park."
With Hodkinson moving on to Newcastle in 2016, Reynolds and Mbye will run out for just their sixth game together in the halves against the Dragons.
Both men are noted runners with the ball in hand, and Reynolds knows his evolution in terms of directing the team becomes even greater when viewed from this perspective.
"We've got plenty to work on. We are still a fresh combo," Reynolds said.
"Moses is very different to Trent too. Moses is a runner of the ball and so am I. At some stage we need to help each other and guide the boys around the park and make sure we're getting the things done that Dessie wants."
Meanwhile Reynolds was happy to get a game under his belt before the finals in the Bulldogs' four-point win against the Warriors at the weekend.
Testing his knee for the first time since Round 20 against Cronulla, Reynolds said fears of it happening again weren't playing on his mind despite concerns he may have reinjured it once he was out there.
"I didn't go into the game thinking about it at all. I felt really confident running on it but a game is a whole different beast," Reynolds said.
"You can run as much as you want at training but when you play your body gets into awkward positions. You can't help that but it's definitely not playing on my mind.
"It really tested me there a couple of times though. It scared me a bit and I thought I might have done it again. But the physio ran on and said it's all part of the healing process."