Josh Reynolds is exactly the type of high-octane performer the Bulldogs need ahead of an intense finals campaign, according to teammates.
Far from being a liability with the occasional brain snap, the returning pivot is a player the Bulldogs can build their finals campaign around, says Josh Morris.
The loss of Origin halfback Trent Hodkinson to a season-ending wrist injury on the eve of the finals is a cruel blow but alleviated somewhat by the return of Reynolds to partner talented youngster Moses Mbye in the halves. The fact Reynolds gets the chance to blow the cobwebs out one game before the knockout matches start is an added bonus.
"Josh is a competitor. You'd rather have one of them in your side than a bloke who does his job half the time," Morris said.
"When 'Grub' runs out he gives 100 per cent but sometimes it does go the wrong way. No-one is doubting his ability and his role in this team.
"He's had a frustrating year with injuries and suspensions and what not but he's really looking forward to this weekend."
Morris said it will be helpful for the new halves to get a game together before the side plays a knockout elimination final against the Rabbitohs or Dragons next week, with this week's game to act as a guide to how they're going to work their partnership through what they hope will be a lengthy finals campaign.
"One of them has to be the chief playmaker. I'm sure Des has spoken to them throughout the week about what their roles are and who is the dominant one when the other takes a back seat," Morris said.
"They're looking all right [at training].... We've got video to watch and I know Des will speak to them about what he wants them to do."
Try-scoring sensation Curtis Rona, headed for his first NRL finals series, said while Hodkinson was a "massive loss" the replacements would do the job.
"[Hodkinson] has steered the ship so well so we'll miss him big-time but in saying that 'Grub' is back from injury and really eager to get out on the field. Every time he pulls on that Bulldogs he'll give 110 per cent," Rona said.
"[Reynolds and Mbye] played together before and we all know what Grubby can do so it will be interesting to see how they go leading into the finals. I've got full faith in both of them to get the job done."
Add young back-rower Shaun Lane: "They're great players. Moses has had a breakthrough season obviously and Grub's had a bit of a rough season with injury and suspension but we all have faith in him, he's proven himself in the past so he'll come into the team easily and slot in nicely where Hokko left off and hopefully we can keep so momentum up heading into the finals."
Lane said Reynolds was close to playing a week earlier but the extra week's rest would help him.
"They didn't want to push him with us already being secure in the eight pretty much... it's great for him to get that extra week's rest and to come back," he said.
"Obviously it's not good to lose Hokko who's such a great player and everything but Grub is a handy back-up and having the two of them now will ease their minds a bit knowing their positions are settled... Hopefully they go well on the weekend."
This article first appeared on NRL.com