Josh Reynolds is out to put a dampener on what shapes as Benji Marshall’s NRL swansong by claiming his Wests Tigers No 6 jumper.
Just two-and-a-half weeks out from the Tigers’ one and only pre-season trial against the Warriors in Whangarei, the battle to partner Luke Brooks in the halves this season is up in the air.
New coach Michael Maguire, also coach of the Kiwis, is keeping his cards close to his chest and all options on the table.
Reynolds said he feels revitalised after an injury-ravaged first season at Wests during which he was restricted to just five appearances because of hamstring and shoulder problems.
By his own admission, his 2018 season was marked by disappointment and mental hurdles, having come over from Canterbury on a marquee four-year $3 million deal.
But after months of lonely slogs in the rehab room at Concord Oval, he has returned to full contact training and says he will be fit to face the Warriors in an effort to prove himself.
“The shoulder is feeling good,” Reynolds said.
“Every time I did go out there last year it was definitely in the back of my mind. But I can go into training now not worrying. It’s just confidence.”
New Zealand veteran Marshall turns 34 later this month and despite entering his 17th season of first-grade, refuses to put an end date on his career.
In Reynolds’ absence last year, Brooks and Marshall led the Tigers to ninth spot but Maguire has indicated the spot is up for grabs.
And Reynolds welcomed the competition to hold onto a first-grade spot.
“We’ve got a trial in a couple of weeks, that might have a bit of input on it,” Reynolds said.
“In the end that’s good.
“In the end there’s only one position. I think Madge wants to get all of us in the team so I’m not sure how he’s going to work that.”
It’s been touted that Marshall could move into the centres or wing to accommodate Reynolds.
Another option would be to use Reynolds as the bench utility and use him to spell veteran hooker Robbie Farah.
Asked if could play No 9, Reynolds said: “I have before. It’s not ideal but if I’ve got to do it, I’ve got to do it because I definitely want to be playing first-grade.”