Josh Reynolds has spent most of the summer on trial. Last night, he was playing in one.
No footballer has had to overcome more setbacks to get back onto the field. There have been the hamstring, knee and shoulder injuries; the struggle to convince his coach he’s one of the best 17 players in the club when fit and the potential arrival of Storm rake Harry Grant that may yet result in more time in the Canterbury Cup.
Josh Reynolds (left) warms up for the match against the Panthers on Saturday night.Credit:Getty
The latest hitch, however, is proof that truth is stranger than fiction. The back-story of the woman levelling domestic violence allegations against Reynolds has been ventilated in the media before the courtroom.
For now, the NRL’s integrity unit has given Reynolds the benefit of the doubt, his reward for being upfront about his predicament. It resulted in him running onto Panthers Stadium, as captain no less.
The former NSW star started the game at five-eighth before shifting to hooker for the second stanza. On the field he also encountered trouble. He was coathangered a quarter of the way through the game and died with the ball on the last tackle on another occasion. All up, it was a solid but unspectacular performance.
Tyrone May sported a new look in his return for the Panthers.Credit:Getty
There were cautionary tales everywhere. The match also marked the return of Tyrone May. Opting for a cappuccino-blond hairstyle, he was hard to miss. This was his first game in 12 months after the integrity unit took a dim view of his sex-tape scandal. An NRL return isn’t possible before round five, but trial and Canterbury Cup games aren’t included in his suspension.
The Samoan international made his way onto the field at the half-hour mark to replace Jarome Luai, who was binned for getting into a scuffle with Matheson Johns. If all goes to plan, this could be his role for the Panthers going forward; coming on from the bench to relieve a tired or injured teammate.
May underscored his value early in the second half. With the rain beginning to tumble and the scores locked at four-all, May received the ball close to the try line. The 23-year-old stepped Reynolds and dived over for a clever try that broke open the game. A try assist, to Stephen Crichton on the hour mark, helped seal a 32-4 victory.
Making the occasion all the more memorable was the fact he played against his younger brother. Panthers junior Terrell May joined the Tigers on a train-and-trial contract and got an opportunity, albeit a brief one, to press his claims.
It was also comeback time for another Tiger who had kept the integrity unit busy. Zane Musgrove started at prop for the joint-venture outfit. This was his first hit-out in two years after being sidelined for damaging property in his native New Zealand and then being found guilty of indecently assaulting a woman at the Coogee Bay Hotel. The former Rabbitoh was one of the best forwards on the field and will give coach Michael Maguire’s pack a point of difference for the upcoming campaign.
Both sides names extended squads, resulting in a total of 51 players being used. Given three were sin binned – Elijah Taylor did time for a seemingly trivial offence – everybody got a run.
Adam Doueihi and Luciano Leilua made their club debuts and escaped unscathed. This was Doueihi’s first chance in the Tigers No.1 jersey after switching from the Rabbitohs last month. The trials are a chance to form combinations, although it’s unlikely anyone any of his teammates on Saturday night will make the Tigers spine for the opening round.
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