How Tigers marquee man Reynolds fits into Cleary's 17
Josh Reynolds is the multi-million-dollar bench utility striving to keep his place, in his eyes at least, in a Wests Tigers 17 Ivan Cleary admits he still hasn't worked out at the halfway point of the season.
Reynolds turned out for just his second game in Tigers colours against his junior club Canterbury on Sunday, as the join-venture turned a six-point deficit into a 14-10 triumph when the former Bulldog was injected into the contest after half-time.
The Tigers shelled out some $750,000 a season to lure Reynolds out of the blue and white fold last year, but such has been the success of Benji Marshall and Luke Brooks in the halves that a return to the scrumbase looks unlikely anytime soon for the ex-NSW No.6.
Cleary has chopped and changed his line-up plenty throughout 2018, particularly across his backline as the likes of Corey Thompson, Mahe Fonua and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak apply serious pressure to more established first graders David Nofoaluma, Kevin Naiqama and Tui Lolohea.
As the Tigers moved back into the top eight with what Reynolds described as their "ugliest win of the year", Cleary conceded he still doesn't definitively know how his first-choice 17 lines up.
He was adamant though that Reynolds is in it somewhere.
"We bought Josh here for a reason," Cleary said.
"This is his second game in 12 rounds. Last year for the second part of the year he didn't play much either.
"So he has missed a lot of football. We are just trying to get him his sea legs back and see where we go from there. But he has definitely got a big role to play in this team."
Reynolds lauded Cleary's roster approach, which has played a large role in the Tigers rise from the doldrums of recent years and created genuine depth in their reserve grade ranks as well.
"(Cleary) has held his word to that, he's said he's going to change people, they'll be in and out," Reynolds said.
"It just keeps people hungry, including myself. I know I haven't got this bench spot sealed.
"It's a good feeling, you've got to keep turning up every week and we've got to make sure we're training well and fitting into the culture we're building."
Reynolds described taking on the junior club he never wanted to leave as "weird", particularly given the conjecture around Bulldogs fullback Moses Mbye joining him at Concord.
With respect to current Tigers No.1 Lolohea, Reynolds was reluctant to comment on the expected signing of Mbye, though he did admit his old teammate looks to have found a permanent role at the back.
"Moses is a good friend of mine, he's playing good footy, I think he'd be an asset to any club," Reynolds said.
"With the speculation, I couldn't tell you. If there is anything to it, he'll probably call me and ask me.
"His kick returns are probably the best in the game and he's just running, playing off the cuff and sometimes in the halves you've got to think about so many things. With this position he's just doing what he's good at, just running and he's definitely a handful."