‘It’s hard to watch:’ Reynolds’ set for bittersweet return against Dogs
By Christian Nicolussi
19 May 2018 — 12:22pm
As he gets ready to return from injury against his childhood club, Josh Reynolds says he has taken no joy in seeing the Bulldogs struggle. Reynolds was squeezed out of Canterbury and quickly signed to the Wests Tigers on a mega four-year deal that crushed fans of the family club. The Dogs faithful showed how much the man nicknamed ‘Grub’ meant to them when they quickly mobbed him in his final game at spiritual home Belmore Oval.
Reynolds missed the first five games for the Tigers with a hamstring injury, then lasted less than half an hour in his only appearance for the club before he injured his shoulder against Manly. While “itching” to return, Reynolds still has a soft spot for his former club, lives with Dogs five-eighth Matt Frawley, and even planned to spend Sunday afternoon watching the Dogs try and register just their fourth win of the season at Shark Park. "I’m not going to put the boot into them, and I know how hard it is to play week in, week out,’’ Reynolds told Fairfax Media. "When you can’t get that win, it’s hard.
"They haven’t been embarrassed and the effort is still there. It’s hard to watch because you want your friends to go well. It sucks. It can be a rollercoaster, but they’ll be back at some stage. They’ll be sweet. "You don’t lose mates because you swap teams. "I might have to split the house with him [Frawley] during the week. "There will be some banter. We’ll have a laugh afterwards. We’ll have another laugh about it in another 10 years. “I just want to get back out there. Whether it’s the Dogs or anyone, I’m just over being on the sideline. I want to play some footy and be a part of it.”
Reynolds’ first contact session was on Friday afternoon when he joined the Tigers reserve grade team for their captain’s run. One player keen for his return is Benji Marshall, who knows first hand what the emotions are like when playing against your former club for the first time. Marshall did it with St George Illawarra after returning to the NRL after a stint in Super Rugby. "We need his energy and the competitiveness he brings,’’ Marshall said. "I’m really feeling for him, especially after his last injury and playing only 30 minutes and then being out another six weeks. "Anyone who knows him knows he’s bouncing off walls already. "Playing against your old club will be a little emotional for him. It was weird for me when I first played against the Tigers, a club I’d been at for so long and then I’m back to play against my mates. "He wants to come back and contribute, and we need him.’’
The Tigers remain in the top eight, but were flat and made too many errors with the ball in their 16-2 loss to Penrith. Marshall said his body was holding up well, despite coming into the season without playing any pre-season trials and the expectation of playing limited minutes off the bench behind Reynolds and Luke Brooks. "I’ve probably played more minutes this year than I have the past two years, and your body gets used to playing week in and week out,’’ Marshall said. "I wish I could have contributed more against Penrith, I thought I was good last weekend [against North Queensland], so I just need to pick it up a bit.’’ Where Reynolds plays will be another issue for coach Ivan Cleary, with Marshall and Brooks clicking in the halves. Jacob Liddle and Elijah Taylor are also now sharing the dummy-half role. Reynolds was praised for his enthusiasm and effort over the summer and was made one of the joint venture’s five captains before playing for the club.