“They’re not going to change it are they?”
With a shrug of his shoulders, star Wests Tigers recruit Josh Reynolds acknowledges coach Ivan Cleary would be mad to split up in-form halves pairing Luke Brooks and Benji Marshall.
So the man who played two grand finals and won the 2014 Origin series (the only successful year for the Blues since 2005) all with the No.6 on his back is now a bench utility.
You won’t find him kicking stones though. Quite the opposite – it would have been impossible to wipe the huge grin of Reynolds’ face as he spoke to media following an exhausting half-hour spell off the bench in his side’s commanding 38-12 win over Manly at Lottoland on Sunday.
“I had so much fun out there,” Reynolds enthused.
“I played a bit of a different role – I think I left my backside out in the middle, I was blowing that much! I’m just so glad to be a part of it.
“I’ve been watching for the last five weeks, doing my part off the field but it’s a very different feeling to actually being a part of it. To come back in and feel what the boys have been feeling, it’s a different feeling.
“I just really enjoy it. I’m off my head, I know it but it doesn’t worry me, it’s just the way I feel and I’m not afraid to show it.”
Reynolds said he was fully prepared to adjust to his new role in the hooking rotation behind Jacob Liddle while the current halves are enjoying a purple patch of form.
“To be fair they’re not going to change it are they? Why change a winning combination?” Reynolds shrugged.
“I’ve just got to do what I’ve got to do and whatever my role is I’ve got to do that to my full potential because it’s not about me, it’s about winning games and that’s what we’re doing at the moment.
“I played a little bit [of hooker previously] but I haven’t really had a big stint in there. I think I played 30 or 35 [minutes against Manly] and that’s pretty long. If that’s going to be my role I’m definitely going to have to work on it but I think I’ll be a lot better off after tonight.”
Reynolds joked that his shoulders would require a two-hour ice bath after being asked to repeatedly throw himself in front of Manly behemoths Marty Taupau and Addin Fonua-Blake during his octane-charged 30-minute stint.
“It’s a different beast [defending in the middle]. I was geeing up [our] middles there saying ‘it’s so easy in the middle, I don’t know why I haven’t been here my whole career’!” he laughed.
“But on a serious note it’s crazy, it’s so different. You have so much respect for them when you’re actually playing there. The work they’ve got to get through and just keep turning up for each other, it’s pretty unbelievable.”
An added challenge for Reynolds is that he continues to train as a half, given any injury to Brooks or Marshall would see him swapped straight in, while also now spending time with the pack.
“Throughout the week you’ve got to know everything. Between the team there’s five or six team meetings and I’ve got to go to all of them – backs, forwards, you know what I mean, you have to be across the whole game plan,” Reynolds said.
“I have done it before. I’m pretty confident in my role as a half because I did it all pre-season and it comes a bit natural to me.”
For his part, Brooks was downplaying his own performance despite putting in what is arguably the most dominant and complete game of his career to date.
“I was pretty happy with my performance and happy with the team performance as well,” Brooks said.
Brooks believed a few years of losses and learning experiences had helped build his character while also releasing some of the pressure and expectations on him.
“I don’t feel any pressure at the moment,” at the moment.
“It’s always going to be tough coming in as a teenager. I think over the past few years I have learned a lot.
“You see it with a lot of halves, they don’t really hit their straps until their late 20s. Halfback is a tough position. Learning from losses, that helps. Over the past few years we’ve had a lot of losses so I’ve learned a lot from that. It’s all a learning curve.”