Suspended Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds believes the confidence he gained from New South Wales' breakthrough Origin series win will elevate his game to another level when the Bulldogs hit the business end of the season.
Speaking ahead of the Bulldogs-Eels Bandage Bear Cup clash in Round 23, Reynolds spoke for the first time since being handed a three-game punishment for a shoulder charge on Will Chambers in Game Three of the Origin series.
And the 25-year-old said he had used his time on the sidelines reflecting on the magnitude of the drought-breaking win – and what affect it can have when the bigger club games start rolling around.
"I probably didn't [reflect] for a whole week because it's straight back into reality but then when you sit down and you have a chat with your mates and your close family members, it's pretty special," he said on Monday.
"For myself, I came in and I was very lucky enough to get the six. And then to win a series after eight years in my first year, it's special. I'm so lucky. There's been guys like ‘Gal’ and ‘Lewie’ who've been there for so long and have tried so hard.
"I'm very lucky and very privileged to be a part of that great NSW team."
After making his Origin debut last season, Reynolds featured in all three games for NSW this season alongside club halfback Trent Hodkinson, and at one stage baited Maroons halfback Johnathan Thurston into an uncharacteristic reaction in Game Two.
Reynolds said he had learnt a lot about his game during the Origin series – as well as the suspension from the final game – especially when it came to keeping a cooler head and shelving away the shoulder charge.
"That's probably one of my biggest downfalls. I've got to sometimes just sit back and realise that I'm in the halves and have to steer the ship around. I definitely feel I've worked on that hopefully I can keep working on it throughout this year and into the semis," he said.
"Definitely [no more shoulder charges]. Des has been very precise on that one. It's something I have to get out of my game because as you can see, it's ruled out now."
But the biggest Origin lesson Reynolds said he could take from this year was his ability to find another gear to his game. The Bulldogs junior was part of the club's past two finals campaigns, falling short of the premiership in 2012. However with the Bulldogs firmly entrenched in the top four, another shot at premiership glory awaits this September.
"The most I've got out of Origin, I think, is just knowing that you've always got that little bit more. I think we showed in that first game a few times when our backs were against the wall but you just have to constantly go up to that next level," he said.
"I know for myself and Trent as a combination we've taken a lot out of it. And hopefully it's just going to make me a lot cooler and calmer at vital stages."
Story first appeared on NRL.com