The first thing that’s apparent about Josh Reynolds is his searing honesty.
He’s not afraid to tell it as it is, he’s also not scared to admit some things most other players wouldn’t.
He’s also incredibly harsh on himself. He considers himself a ‘dud’ after three frustrating years at Wests Tigers, where he was signed on a big-money contract. He blames nobody but himself for being unable to replicate the performances that saw him become a star at Canterbury.
And there will be no excuses if things don’t go right at Hull FC, where he has just signed a two-year contract to become new coach Brett Hodgson’s first signing.
“I’m excited but I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit nervous,” he says as he sits on a balcony overlooking Sydney.
“It’s a massive change for me, but for the footy side of things, I’m really excited to get out there and play some week in, week out footy, I haven’t done that in quite a long time, so it’ll be good to get a fresh start.
“You talk about all those negative things about changing countries and everyone’s had their say about Hull and that it’s not as nice as Sydney, but I’m not even thinking about stuff. You can look at it and attack it in a positive way or you can think about all that and of course it’s going to feel like you’re doing the wrong thing.”
Every player has their own reasons for coming to Super League. Reynolds is no different, even if his reasons are.
“Not to be rude, it’s more for me.
“Whether I finish or not there I want to make sure I can sit in a pub in ten years time and think I had a really good crack there and made some memories and everyone loved me. I’ve heard the fans can really embrace someone that is passionate and does love the club, that’s how it was like that at the Bulldogs and I definitely want that again.
“To be completely honest, I miss it. And that’s not to say I was a hero at the Bulldogs but I grew up as a local junior and the fans did embrace me, and it was a great feeling. I want to create that in Hull. I’d love for them to love me. Halfway through the season I think the people of Hull will really know what I’m about. I want to bring them joy, because that’s the power we have, to put smiles on people’s faces.
“You’re kidding yourself if you’re saying you don’t care what the fans think. You can go out on the field and give your all and it might jot be good enough, but I’m a fan of other sports and if I look at someone and they’ve given everything, what can you say? But I can say one thing, as a player, if I have to prove anything to anyone it’s that I’ll leave that field every week doing the best for my team. I’m coming over there to be there for every single one of those blokes, I don’t care if I cop a couple of whacks or if I get carried from the field, I’ll be coming back for more, that’s what I want to be known for.”
The club has, in the past, overawed players. The weight of expectation and the volatility of the fanbase has proven too intense. Somehow, you get the feeling Reynolds is actually craving that.
“I’ve always had that expectation for some reason. I went into a Bulldogs side really young and I feel I can draw a lot of similarities from the Hull club and the Bulldogs, both being very passionate, and that’s what I want because I’m a passionate person. If I can bring what I can to a club, I know hopefully more will like me than don’t.
“I’ve always said to my mates that I really wanted to head there at some stage. It’s different over there, I see the crowds and the small grounds and I love all that. I’ve had two great grounds in Sydney with Belmore and Leichhardt, they’re the grounds that I love playing at and I see a lot of the grounds over there, they’re like that, they fit a lot of people into a small ground. The fans get into it and give it to you, it’s what rugby league is about. I’m really excited to experience that.”
Reynolds wants more than a nice experience though, he wants success.
“To be completely honest, if you’re not there to win a trophy what are you there for? Every time I step out on the training field, not even the footy field, I’m there to get better.
“I’ve seen some photos of when they won the Challenge Cup a few years ago and it looks amazing. I want that, I want to be a part of that and create history. I’ve been in two Grand Finals and lost two, it’s the worst feeling in the world, so I’m coming over to change that.
“People say you have a burning to desire to win one and it’s true. There’s so much that goes into a season and the build-up and to miss out is so hard. I’m not promising anyone the world but I’m going to put my best foot forward, I’m not coming for a holiday. I hate it when I hear people say ‘you can travel anywhere it’s so close’. It’s the last thing on my mind.”
Whatever happens, he’s determined not to go down as a dud again.
“You can’t go two dud signings back-to-back, can you?
“To be completely honest with you, I’m very honest with myself and I think you as the media will realise that. The whole dud, thing, I said that, I’m probably my own worst enemy sometimes, but it’s probably got me to where I am.
“I did want to play more games and do more and I thought I played some good footy at the Bulldogs and played Origin. I know exactly what I can do, I don’t think I’m a cocky person but deep down in myself, I know what I can do. It’s rugby league, it’s a vicious sport and you’re going to get some bad calls and not like what the coach says but you’re the only person who can change that.”