And while it is only round one, you have to wonder just where Adam Reynolds sits in the NSW Origin pecking order when it comes to the No. 7 jersey.
“It was just nice to get out there, I had a cleanout of the shoulder before Christmas, it didn’t recover as quickly as I would have liked, but it felt good,” Reynolds told The Sun-Herald.
And you know he’s on when he’s cheeky in changerooms – he’s been a cheeky little pest over the pre-season.
Sam Burgess on Adam Reynolds
“I could have played in the Charity Shield but the coaching staff thought they’d save me and have me 100 per cent fit for [Friday night].
“Wayne has come in and simplified things. He hasn’t changed too much. We have a simple game plan and if I play my best each week I’m adding value to this team, be it kicking, directing the team to the best field positions to get our plays on, trying to drag numbers to the opposite side, little things like that.”
Bennett said after the game he had a talented spine, and there was no use playing with structure.
“That is detrimental to the way they play – they have a freedom to play and that is what they bring,” Bennett said.
“That is the beauty of what makes them the players they are.”
Sam Burgess said a good indicator of when Reynolds was ready for a big game was how vocal he was in the sheds.
“And you know he’s on when he’s cheeky in changerooms – he’s been a cheeky little pest over the pre-season,” Burgess said.
“He played great, he was very vocal, he’s been at this club for 10 years now.
“He’ll have a smile on his face Monday morning, which will be good.”
Burgess laughed when told about the Reynolds rumours before kick-off and quipped: “Have you seen Adam with his shirt off? You’d think he’s not that fit. But he goes alright. He was always going to play. He probably could have played in the Charity Shield, but the NRL is relentless on the body, and he puts his body on the line.”
Reynolds goes head to head with St George Illawarra on Thursday night, the same team he sunk out of the semi-finals with three cool-as-you-like field-goals last September.
Having played two Origin games, Reynolds, 28, said it would be tough to crack into a winning team, but ”it was something I loved and cherished and wouldn’t take for granted if it came around again”.
Halves partner Cody Walker has always been a fan of Reynolds and was the beneficiary of one of his kicks that bounced off the upright. Walker kissed his left wrist where he has his late mother, as well as his partner and two kids’ names scribbled on some strapping.
He has vowed to make it a habit every time he bags a four-pointer.
Reynolds not only had a great right boot, said Walker, but ”he’s a great defensive player, he’s always composed and doesn’t let too many things rattle him”.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.