Bulldogs attempt to build on field success by discarding an off field champion

One of the best spectacles from the latest weekend in the glorious world of rugby league was the match between the Knights and the Bulldogs and the euphoric atmosphere created as the Belmore faithful embraced Josh Reynolds after his side’s miraculous win. The game was built as Reynolds farewell to the passionate Canterbury supporters with the club even naming the Northern Hill after him. A fantastic gesture! However, if the man means that much to the community and the club, perhaps resigning him may have been a better approach.

In many ways, Josh Reynolds of the Bulldogs is a polarising figure. He is loved and respected by the fans of the teams he plays for but is absolutely despised by everybody else. His niggling and often questionable tactics drive opposing fans crazy. Rugby League fans cheered and rejoiced watching him kick a chair in a Suncorp Stadium locker room after being sent from the field. However, one thing that can never be questioned is his passion for the game and in particular the genuine love and pride he consistently has shown towards representing the Canterbury Bulldogs. Surely he deserved to be treated better by the club.

What Josh Reynolds means to the Bulldogs goes much further than what he does on the football field. As fans, we can often be guilty of forming opinions based on what happens on the football field when the cameras are turned on. This is fair as this is the evidence that we see. The real testament of a person is how they behave when the cameras are off. No one typifies this more than Josh Reynolds. There are countless stories of Reynolds selflessness and how he emphasises what Canterbury is about, being a family club. There is the story of him driving all around Sydney to attend birthday parties for teammate’s children because he didn’t want to let people down. Or the countless hospital visits, arranging of signed jerseys and checking up on the welfare of the Bulldogs Army co-ordinator during a tragic time in the family’s life. His worth for the club goes far beyond his contributions on the field.

It is easy to look at the decision by the Bulldogs to sign Kieran Foran and let Josh Reynolds go as the right one for the club to help build more on field success. Foran is a winner on every level in rugby league and someone who demands respect from those he runs out alongside. This will definitely help a team who are dead last in points scored, even sitting below cellar dwellers Newcastle and the Tigers. However, the Bulldogs have effectively discarded a man who is arguably seen as the heart and soul of the club. Loyalty sometimes gets lost in Rugby League and I believe the situation with Reynolds could have been handled better. To not even engage him in contract discussions does not seem right. Watching the fans surround him after the final whistle on Sunday just shows his worth to the Belmore community and the Bulldogs fans. Who will fill this role next season?

There are many more naturally talented footballers than Josh Reynolds but there would not be many who share the love and passion for a club like he does for his Bulldogs. I will never be a fan of the way Josh Reynolds plays the game and his questionable tactics. However, I now have a soft spot and appreciation for the passion he has for rugby league. He will be an asset for the Tigers, a team who are wanting to build a culture within the club. Josh Reynolds has been moved on. Time will tell if the Bulldogs regret the decision to cut ties with the man known as “The Grub”.