- Jan 25, 2014
Christian NicolussiJune 5, 2023
There are seven key reasons NSW coach Brad Fittler could end Adam Reynolds’ seven-year Origin exile and get the in-form Brisbane halfback back in the Blues No.7 jersey.
The hamstring injury to Nathan Cleary has created a vacancy in the Blues side for the all-important second game against Queensland at Suncorp Stadium.
And while Nicho Hynes is the favourite to be elevated into the starting side, Reynolds is confident he has the big-game experience to steer the Blues around the paddock should he get the call-up.
It’s a view shared by his Broncos coach Kevin Walters, who knows all too well what it takes to succeed in Origin, having been a longstanding former player and coach for the Maroons.
Former South Sydney star Reynolds, 32, played just two games for the Blues in 2016 before a neck injury suffered in the second game ruled him out of the final match.
But his defence, his superior kicking game, his experience and his ability to create space for his outside men will give Fittler plenty to think about.
So, too, will the fact Reynolds now plays his club footy in Brisbane, which means he has an intimate knowledge of Suncorp Stadium, as well as any weaknesses in the games of key Maroons and Broncos players Reece Walsh, Tom Flegler, Selwyn Cobbo and Pat Carrigan.
Reynolds has years of experience playing alongside the current crop of Blues, such as hooker Api Koroisau, with whom he won a premiership at Souths in 2014, and returning Rabbitohs fullback Latrell Mitchell.
“I’ve certainly never given up on my Origin dream,” Reynolds told this masthead on Monday after the news broke that Cleary was out for six weeks.
“I’m passionate about my state, and it’s always been a burning desire to get back there and finish what I was trying to achieve back then. It’s up to Freddy [Fittler] and the selectors now.
“I played Origin at a time of my career when I was actually uncertain about my future in the game. But Origin got me back loving the game and enjoying myself.
“Footy had become a bit of a grind. We were having a down year after we had won the comp, the World Club Challenge and Auckland Nines.
“I didn’t understand my game like the way I do now. I also have a greater appreciation for that Origin arena. Back then I would do things based on my feel for the game. Now I know how to get a team around the field a lot better, and what works and doesn’t work.”
Reynolds’ kicking game was more effective than Hynes’s when they went head-to-head in the Brisbane-Cronulla game on Saturday night, even though Hynes and the Sharks had more possession.
Reynolds was also confident he could partner well with incumbent Blues five-eighth Jarome Luai, saying: “I think I play a style of football that complements most five-eighths.
“My job would be creating space for my outside men and letting them do all the good stuff. I try to make everyone around me better. I’m not your guy who comes up with all the stuff that makes the highlights reels.
“I know what makes those guys [the Brisbane-based Maroons] tick, and what they look for in certain areas of the field.
“I’m always looking at ways to break down a team each weekend. That’s the part of the game I enjoy the most, coming up with a game plan and going out and executing it. Whatever happens, I’ll be supporting the Blues.”
Walters would love to see Reynolds return to the big stage, even though he would never cheer for him on the night.
“Reyno’s point of difference would be his experience in such a big game, and he’s in good touch,” Walters said.
“He’s played in Origins before, at Suncorp, he’s played in grand finals, at Suncorp. I’d never want to help NSW, but out of respect to Reyno, I think he’d do a great job.
“He’s your classical Origin half who kicks well and defends well and he’s a smart footballer - he takes good options.”
As he has got older, Reynolds has worked on how to get the best out of his body every week, having a sauna built in his home and embracing bikram yoga.
Walters was not concerned at the toll an Origin campaign would have on his skipper in the run home to the finals.
“You want as many of your guys playing in those big games because it’s great for them and the club,” he said.
Sydney Morning Herald