Josh Reynolds forked out his own money to make sure his body was in the best shape possible for the start of an NRL season where favourite son Benji Marshall could make the shock move to the centres.
Reynolds was first to admit he was disappointed with his first season at Wests Tigers last year.
Pulling his weight: Josh Reynolds is due for a change of luck this season.Credit:Dan Talintyre
The former Bulldogs star arrived on a four-year, $3 million deal, but survived just five games – essentially $160,000 a match – as he dealt with a hamstring injury followed by a broken scapula.
Twelve months on and Tigers fans will be wondering how Reynolds and Marshall will be used in the same team if both are fit.
Smh.com.au can reveal new Tigers coach Michael Maguire is considering playing Marshall as an outside back.
Such a move would allow the Tigers to have an experienced player such as Marshall on the field for an entire game, while he also presents a genuine attacking option on the one side of the field with fellow Kiwi Esan Marsters on the other.
Marshall also spent time in the centres during his time at the Broncos.
Reynolds bristled when asked if he felt under pressure in his second year at Concord, given his big-money move.
"I'm not rolling up at 6am each day hoping to get injured,'' he said. "I did my best to play through injury last year, but what do you do?
"That last year at Canterbury [in 2017] I tore my hammy twice and my calf. I'd never had a soft-tissue injury before, so I was always behind the eight ball coming into last season.
"The guys here, [physio] Pete Moussa, they all helped me and I felt sorry for them because they put everything into me and my body failed me.
"I did my hammy during the captain's run leading into round one, then I broke my scapula. Cooper [Cronk] had the same injury [in the grand final]. I'd strap it up, needle it and you'd feel good during the week, but then you'd get to the game and take a hit and you'd have a dead feeling.
"It has to turn for me and I honestly believe it will.''
Josh Reynolds: ‘If we’re only here to make the [top] eight we’re not in the right head space.’Credit:Dan Talintyre
Not only did Reynolds undergo shoulder surgery during the season, in September he spent two weeks at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne working with a team who specialise in strengthening hamstrings. It was Moussa's idea. Brooks and Chris Lawrence also spent time down south.
It is understood Reynolds funded part of his own lengthy stay because of his desire to get fit.
When asked about Maguire's plans for he and Marshall, Reynolds smiled and said: "I can't tell you. We know what's going on, it will probably be what you think, and it would be silly not to use all of us. I'm not sitting around saying, 'I want to wear the No.6', and Benji isn't doing that. We all just want to rip in.''
Reynolds spent some time at dummy-half last year, but has not trained there this summer.
The Tigers have missed the finals seven years in a row and rather than settle on the simple goal of ending the September drought, Reynolds is dreaming bigger.
"If we're only here to make the eight we're not in the right head space,'' Reynolds said.
"Everyone will have their opinion about us, but the one thing I love about us is we're not just shooting for the eight. It's maybe something that has happened in the past because we haven't been there. But we have some really good leaders who have done some good things in the game and it's exciting.
"I've played in a couple of grand finals and and I know the feeling, and there's that sort of feeling about this group.''
Reynolds will have his hands full at the start of the season as he and his partner are expecting the arrival of twin boys. He's happy to miss any games if it coincides with the birth.
One teammate who has had impressed Reynolds during the pre-season is Kane Bradley, who went by the nickname "Corey Oates" because he was a back-rower who had spent a bit of time training on the wing.
"He's lean, he's big and fit and really keen on learning,'' Reynolds said.
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