Blues five-eighth Josh Reynolds knew his teammates would fall in love with Trent Hodkinson from the get-go, but admits he wanted to change their perception of him.
He can handle the nickname “Grub”, and opposition teams thinking he is one, but what Reynolds cannot handle is his teammates thinking the same thing.
“I knew the type of guy Trent is, everyone would love him straight away,” Reynolds said.
“But for myself I wasn’t sure. I wanted to be myself and show the boys what I’m about. It’s a bit hard for me. Everybody looks at me like a grub every time I play them. But if I leave here with these guys saying ‘I love playing next to this bloke’, that’s all I want.”
The Bulldogs No.6 is one of the most liked players in the team, having helped orchestrate NSW’s first Origin triumph since 2005. While the match was slightly tarnished by a headbutting incident with Johnathan Thurston, he was quick to show how different he is once that full-time whistle blows.
“It doesn’t worry me that people call me a grub but if I meet a guy and I play with him, or get to know him, I want him to know that off the field I’m totally different,” Reynolds said.
“It’s just the heat of the battle. It’s the competition. It’s the desire to win. Ten people have asked me what happened with JT but look at JT – he’s the most competitive bloke in the game and I take pride in that myself as well. We came to blows because we both wanted to win and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
“I said to him straight after the game when I shook his hand that ‘I have that much respect for you and look up to you as a player’.
“He knows that and I just wanted to let him know that. He said it was all sweet and that it’s all part of the battle. He told me I played well in both games – to hear that from him was pretty special.”
Reynolds also admitted he was concerned about feeling like an outsider coming into team with so many established players, but praised his teammates for welcoming him and Hodkinson into the team.
“A couple of boys have been here for years and they could have that mentality that we’re the new guys and not trusted us,” Reynolds said.
“We had to earn their trust. I just feel honoured and privileged to be part of this great group. They’ve taken me and Trent in and trusted us to guide them around the park. At stages, we weren’t at our best but we dug deep for each other and that’s what this team is built on. It wasn’t about one person playing spectacular, it was about the whole team lining up and making sure we got each other’s back.”