Mbye: I'm the man to keep 'Grub' in line
They are the unlikely odd couple sharing the reins to one of the premiership's most well supported clubs but Moses Mbye believes the strong bond they share off the field will enable he and Josh Reynolds to thrive as the Bulldogs first-choice halves in 2016.
Halves partners on seven occasions last season, Mbye and Reynolds will line up together for the first time this year in Saturday's trial against the Storm at Belmore Sports Ground where they will oppose experienced Storm pair Blake Green and Cooper Cronk.
Despite being four years his junior, Mbye is the calming presence as opposed to the impetuous energy that Reynolds brings to the Bulldogs and their friendship extends beyond the football field.
Whether it's going out to dinner, catching up over coffee, attending AFL games or bouncing around at Skyzone, Mbye and Reynolds are rarely far apart and the 22-year-old says they are thrilled at the prospect of forming a strong combination on the field.
"I'll do my best. I don't know if anyone can keep him in line but I'll do my best," Mbye said.
"Me and Josh are very good mates. We spend a lot of time together, probably most weekends together and we've got a good friendship on and off the field and we enjoy each other's company.
"We're over the moon that we're playing beside each other this year and we've been talking to each other about how excited we are."
Bulldogs skipper James Graham also sees plenty of positives in the pairing of Mbye and Reynolds, believing the departure of halfback Trent Hodkinson to the Knights in the off-season will see both players assume more responsibility this season.
Impressed by the maturity of Mbye who is reportedly close to signing a rich new deal with the Bulldogs, Graham said Reynolds will have to balance his high-energy game with the need to be the senior half in the team.
"Losing [Hodkinson] Josh probably will have to take on more responsibility in terms of getting us around the park but Josh is a great player because of the way that he is so instinctive and he just goes and plays with that high energy," Graham said.
"You definitely don't want him to disregard any of that but he might have to think a little bit more going into games about how he's going to manage the game.
"Twelve months ago Moses was the outside back who would come in if there was a centre down, a half down, if there was a fullback down, we would re-jig [the team] and Moses would fit somewhere into the team
"Now he finds himself very much the starting six or starting seven for us, and a lot of responsibility comes with that. I'm backing Moses to thrive on it and to kick his game on to another level.
"There's clarity in his mind about what his role is in the team and he's such a smart kid. For someone who is 22 he has got a really good head on his shoulders and he's got good life experiences as well.
"Moses has got the world at his feet so if he keeps on improving and keeps on working on his game he can be anything."
Now balancing the duties of fatherhood with his role as a high-profile NRL player, Mbye is also expected to be the Bulldogs' first-choice goal-kicker in 2016, spending plenty of time in the off-season with former Bulldog and legendary sharp-shooter Daryl Halligan.
Despite the additional expectation that comes with being Canterbury's No.7 elect, Mbye doesn't expect his role to change markedly from that which he played in 19 games in the halves last season.
"I played quite a bit of football last year at the helm and played more than 20 games in front of the side so I've got a fair idea of what I need to do," said Mbye, who filled in at hooker for the injured Michael Ennis in the 2014 grand final.
"The boys are very supportive of me and they listen well. We've been working hard at it this pre-season and we're all very excited about moving forward and into 2016.
"I have been working on [my goal-kicking] in the off-season with Darryl Halligan. He's been coming in and running a few of us through a few things and there are a few boys who do kick.
"I'm sure whoever is in the best form at the time will be goal-kicking I guess."