February 18 2018 - 7:00PM
NRL 2018: Josh Reynolds puts team first in step up to Wests Tigers co-captaincy
Josh Reynolds is vowing to lead by example as a co-captain at Wests Tigers, endeavouring to be a calming influence for his new team rather than the player who at times “lost his head” at Canterbury.
The Tigers recruit was last week announced as one of five co-captains in Ivan Cleary’s side, sharing the leadership duties with Chris Lawrence, Elijah Taylor, Russell Packer and Benji Marshall.
There was an evening of firsts for the 28-year-old in Cairns on Saturday night. He ran out in a top-grade club game for the first time in colours other than blue and white, sat around in darkness as a blackout delayed the start of the trial against North Queensland, and also delivered his first-ever pre-match speech.
Reynolds said he was proud to have been given the role by his new coach but knew it came with responsibilities, chief among them trying to rise above the kind of heat-of-the-battle ill-discipline that has let the former NSW State of Origin five-eighth down in the past.
“I’m no going to lie - it’s a pretty big honour for me. I never probably got looked at like that at the Bulldogs and that was fine,” Reynolds said of the captaincy after being one of the Tigers’ best in a 30-16 victory over the Cowboys.
"I was just happy to do my thing. But to come here and for Ivan to put me in that group, it’s very special. I’m very proud and I’m definitely going to do the best I can to put my two cents in and help the team any way I can.
"In the past I’ve lost my head in games, and I’m happy to say that. But I definitely think that having this role, at stages, I’ve got to be the calm one. I’ve got to be the person that the boys go ‘if he’s calm, then we can be’.
“It’s something I’m definitely going to have to work on because it’s a bit new to me but I’m happy to do my best to do that because all the best players are calm at the right moments. At stages, I might have to talk to the ref. The refs are normal human beings. You’ve got to talk to them with respect like you want them to talk to you. It’s going to be something different for me, but I’m ready for it. I’m excited.”
The Tigers are listed at odds of $81 to win the competition - and $6 to even make the top eight - making them the most unfancied team in the NRL three weeks away from round one.
Reynolds, though, is nothing if not competitive and he was eager to get his message across about what can be achieved this season when he followed Lawrence and addressed the team for the first time as a captain.
“Every time I talk I just try and talk from the heart, man. These boys you’re about to go into battle with, they’re the ones that need to be by your side,” he said.
“We’re a new team … I just want us to get really excited about that. I don’t want the boys to forget that we’ve got a really good opportunity to make a really good culture at the club.”
As evidence of Reynolds’ team-first ethos, he said he had no issue with being deployed on occasion at hooker, as he was for a while during the trial outing in the far north.
“Ivan mentioned it to me during the pre-season and I’m happy with that. I’m not sort of one of those guys who has a tantrum or spits the dummy because ‘I only play five-eighth’,” he said.
"I’m happy to do whatever is best for the team. I’ve done it before, it wasn’t that different. It’s pretty cool in there, when the big boys get a bit tired, I can get in there and try and speed up the ruck a bit.
"If I have to move to another spot to accommodate for someone else, that’s just how it is.
“I definitely want to be the five-eighth here and I feel that I’m filling that role really well, but on the other hand I’m not that guy who’s going to say ‘no’ if he needs me in that hooker role.”