Josh Reynolds has admitted to struggling with self doubt as he fights to retain his NSW five-eighth spot.
After an indifferent NRL season so far with Canterbury, NSW City Origin pivot Reynolds will go head-to-head with Sydney Roosters playmaker and Country captain James Maloney in the battle for the contentious Blues No.6 jersey at Wagga Wagga on Sunday.
As the City team came together at the SCG on Monday, Reynolds admitted his poor start to the NRL season, which has been hampered by injury and suspension, has led him to second guess himself.
“I have definitely questioned myself sometimes and I have never really done that,” Reynolds said.
“Round one I got suspended straight away and got injured straight away and it was just what I didn’t want.
“You picture the season to be perfect, you picture yourself coming out round one and scoring three tries setting up five and everything starts off really well but it was the total other end.
“I have gone ‘why does that happen?’. I have trained well in the off season, I have done everything I could to put my best foot forward and it just didn’t happen.
“But I just sat back and realised that it is not a smooth ride and that is good because if it was a smooth ride you would get all comfortable and sit back and take it easy, instead I have worked on some little things I need to fix and it has been good for me.”
South Sydney star Luke Keary’s chance of forcing his way into the Blues halves all but evaporated on Monday after he was ruled out of the City side with a foot injury, alongside his Rabbitohs teammate Dylan Walker (foot).
Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco comes onto the wing for City, with Gold Coast flyer James Roberts shifting to the centres for Walker.
Canberra playmaker Blake Austin moves off the bench and alongside Reynolds in City’s halves in place of Keary.
Parramatta utility Joseph Paulo moves from 18th man to the interchange bench and Penrith back-rower Bryce Cartwright becomes coach Brad Fittler’s reserve.
“I haven’t spoken to Luke, we just got a message from South Sydney,” Fittler said on Monday.
“It’s disappointing but I understand. We are eight weeks into the NRL and most of the blokes are probably carrying injuries, that is why these weeks can be tough.
The City v Country fixture is often the victim of questionable pullouts due to injury, but Fittler said he was satisfied with Souths’ handling of the matter.
“Luke played well yesterday, but that is the report coming out of South Sydney and I’m being guided by them,” Fittler said.
Keary has though missed a golden chance. “Every game is an opportunity and City/Country is a big opportunity given James Maloney and Josh Reynolds will be playing against each other,” Fittler said.
“It would have been another step towards an Origin jersey if Luke played a good game.”