He was axed as NSW five-eighth but that didn’t stop Josh Reynolds from helping the Blues force a State of Origin decider.
The lively Canterbury playmaker has emerged as an unlikely contributor for NSW after revealing he rang under-fire teammate Trent Hodkinson and gave him a pep talk on the eve of Game II.
After a sub-par performance in the series-opener, Blues coach Laurie Daley’s decision to stick by Hodkinson divided the state.
But Reynolds backed his clubmate to lead NSW to victory in Melbourne last week.
“I was feeling so nervous for him as well because I know what everyone’s been saying,” Reynolds said.
“I spoke to him before the game and I just said not many people get to play at the MCG in front of 90,000 so I said just soak it up and he sure did.
“I thought he took control of the game really well and I was just so happy for him and I hope he can have another great game in Game III.”
Since coming back to the team from his second suspension of the season, a rejuvenated Reynolds has returned to his energetic best and inspired the Bulldogs to three wins in their past four games – including Saturday night’s powerful win over Penrith.
The 26-year-old admitted to being disappointed at losing his Origin jumper, but has now re-applied his focus to his club team.
“I didn’t get selected for the Origin side and it did hurt, I’m not going to lie, but I still had a job to do here at the Bulldogs and that’s my main priority anyway,” he said.
“It’s good to be enjoying my footy again, I’m having a great time out there with the boys and hopefully we can continue on our (Saturday night’s) platform.”
Reynolds is set to be the club’s only local junior to play in next Monday night’s clash against Melbourne, which will be the first NRL game played at Belmore Sports Ground since 1998.
“I played trials and all my junior footy there but to play a proper NRL game there would be pretty cool,” he said.
“It’s massive for myself. I grew up there, I still live there, my whole family’s still there, it’s going to be a big moment running out onto that pitch in front of about 20,000 people.
“ANZ’s a great stadium but sometimes we don’t really get that fans-in-your-face atmosphere so it’ll be great. I can’t wait.”