Josh Reynolds has a fight on his hands to retain a Wests Tigers bench spot, while any hopes of a third attempt to return home to Canterbury also appear to be quickly fading.
Harry Grant has impressed everyone at the Tigers since arriving from Melbourne, with Cameron Smith’s former dummy-half under-study a huge chance to wear the No.9 jersey in the joint venture’s next game.
Wests Tigers players return to base
The Wests Tigers have returned to the club as the NRL powers towards a May 28 return date. #NRL
Should that happen, Grant’s good friend Billy Walters - not Reynolds - will likely get the nod to fill the utility role on the bench.
Reynolds, impossible to miss on Monday with his bleached locks, reached out to the Bulldogs a few weeks ago about a return, which prompted the club to then make some inquiries to the Tigers about an immediate release.
While Canterbury coach Dean Pay left the door ajar for Reynolds late last week, the Herald has been told by sources close to both western Sydney clubs the move simply will not happen unless the playmaker is prepared to accept minimum wage.
Reynolds will earn north of $750,000 the next two seasons, and while Canterbury acknowledge they need experience in their pack, Reynolds’ price tag is just too high and he would only be seen as a short-term fix.
Josh Reynolds trains with the Wests Tigers on Monday.
With no reserve grade in which to impress coach Michael Maguire, the only way for Reynolds to push his case for a recall is to blitz it on the training paddock.
Technically Reynolds cannot be approached by a rival club with more than 12 months remaining on his deal, but the Tigers were happy to listen to any proposals put forward by the Dogs. There has been no contact in a fortnight, and that is not expected to change.
The Tigers are mindful of not letting the negotiations become a distraction for Reynolds, especially after it became an emotional burden last year when talk of a Belmore return again surfaced.
Canterbury have 27 players on their roster and are awaiting confirmation from the NRL if even have to sign replacements for sacked duo Corey Harawira-Naera and Jayden Okunbor.
Hooker Harry Grant has impressed since arriving from Melbourne.
Co-captain Moses Mbye, who played with Reynolds at the Bulldogs, said of his friend: "I personally haven’t spoken to him about it, I think he’s had a tough couple of years and he hasn’t had much reward for the hard work he’s put in, so whatever happens with ‘Grub’, be it here or elsewhere, it would be good to see him playing first-grade footy and back where he belongs. Whatever is best for him I’m certainly supportive.’’
Mbye said Grant was unproven in the NRL and there had been plenty of handy NSW and Queensland Cup players ‘‘who haven’t cut the mustard at NRL level’’.
"But we have really big expectations of Harry, and what he has shown in his first week of training has been exceptional,’’ Mbye said of his fellow Queenslander.
"It’s a good headache to have for the head coach. We’ve got depth, which is something we haven’t had the past couple of seasons.’’
Parramatta Eels young forward Stefano Utoikamanu has been upgraded from his development contract and will join the top 30 squad until the end of the 2020 season.
Parramatta Eels General Manager of Football Mark O’Neill said, “Stefano is an exciting young prospect who has been training really well during the pre-season and has earnt this opportunity.”
“He is held in such high regard from his peers and the broader Eels Club. We are all looking forward to his contribution throughout this season as we strive to do better than what we achieved last year.”
From eels twitter
A Parramatta Eels junior, Stefano is an Australian Schoolboys representative and played in the NSW Under 18s Origin game last year in a man-of-the-match performance.
There real grubs that lot a very spiteful organisation… they got a good player and gave nothinganyway he is contracted so be it … there time will come karma will out!
Man i hope that contract from 2021 is watertight. Parra will be looking at every avenue possible to stop him coming to us.
Thanks so much O’Neill…
Hard to believe O’Neill was former Tiger, even harder to believe that he played in our 2005 Premiership winning team! You’d think he would still feel some sort of fondness for us from that experience, not complete disdain!
Didn’t O’Neill have to resign from his position at the Tigers for disciplinary reasons? And you wonder why he’d be dirty on us?
Remember when Todd Greenburg was at the Bulldogs and actively encouraged Des Hasler to break his contract with Manly (which still had 12 months to run) to take up the Bulldogs job?
I don’t get why everybody is so surprised, That’s the culture that he brings to the NRL.
A fish rots from the head down.
If you’re interested in Wests Tigers Polos, ISC is currently selling them on-line for $20