Reynolds opens up on his five-year struggle to come back to Belmore
An emotional Josh Reynolds has opened up on his long road back to Belmore ahead of his first appearance for the Bulldogs in over five years.
The Prince of Belmore was a ball of energy when fronting the media to celebrate his second debut for Canterbury and was happy to share the rollercoaster that he had been on since being chaired off the field in his final appearance in 2017.
He endured unhappy stints at Wests Tigers and Hull FC in the Super League, culminating in his contract being terminated by the English club.
“It was a mental battle,” said Reynolds. “It was probably the most self-doubt I’ve ever had, to be honest. I struggled with it.
“I never really had a lot (of doubt) coming through because you’re young, fit and you know your body’s going to be okay.
“But the first day when I came into pre-season, I was nervous. Then I did the first fitness test and it made me more nervous!”
Now, he is set to make his return for the Bulldogs’ meeting with the North Queensland Cowboys on Sunday night at Accor Stadium.
“It sunk in yesterday when we had a day off,” he said. “I went back to when I first had the idea of coming back and then to where I am right now.
“It’s a cliche but it’s a dream come true. Ten years down the track, when I try to explain this to someone, I won’t be able to because it’s been such a different ride for me.
“From a pre-season train and trial deal to now, it’s so different from anything I’ve ever done in my career. The relief, the joy that I’m going to get on Sunday when I run out with those boys is going to be special.”
Disaster struck almost immediately on his return to Canterbury with a hamstring injury that cut into the time he had available to impress new coach Cameron Ciraldo and Dogs’ supremo Gus Gould.
“I had a little hammy during the middle, which once again, wasn’t great timing because I only had 12 weeks to prove myself,” he admitted. “The whole question that Gus and Ciro had was: ‘is your body going to hold up?’ So that was pretty much a no to them.
“But I told Ciro I was going to get back as fast as I can and he was good about it. I have to thank him for sticking with me because they would have had big doubts. That’s what everyone thought was going to happen.
“I’m glad it didn’t come easy. I’m glad I didn’t just walk in here and got to go off what I’d done here before. I wanted to prove myself.”
Reynolds was proud to get a second opportunity to end his career after the ignominy of being released from Hull. repay the faith shown in him.
“I did lose the love for the game a bit, in that five-year period but only because I loved it so much here,” said the 33-year-old.
“Now that I get to talk about finishing it here at the club I love, it changes all that. It makes it all worth it.
“I know there’s no comparison I could draw because when I went to the Tigers and to England, they were never even close to here. That’s just me be being honest.
“In ten years’ time when I do talk about this, when I talk to my son and daughter about my football career, I would’ve been a bit a bitter if I ended it there.
“Now that I get to talk about finish here, at the club that I love, it makes it all worth it. I’m glad I persevered and got through that period to find a love for it again. This feeling I’m haviing right now is exactly how I used to feel back in the good old days.”