South Sydney playmaker Adam Reynolds admits he doubted himself last year, but now feels ready to call the shots for the NSW State of Origin team.
While Blues incumbent Mitchell Pearce has been cleared for selection after he was hit with just a fine and one game ban for his wild night out on the town, Reynolds is still in contention to wear the No.7 jumper for the Origin series opener on May 28.
The classy halfback was also considered last year after helping transform the Rabbitohs into a genuine premiership force, but on Tuesday claimed he was far more ready for the Origin cauldron this time around.
“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable and a lot more experienced than last year,” Reynolds said.
“Last year I was sort of still trying to guess where I’m at and how I was going.
“This year I’m feeling a lot more confident pushing the boys around and controlling the game.”
The 23-year-old insists he isn’t feeling any anxiety over his selection chances a week out from the Blues’ team naming for game one in Brisbane.
“My focus is South Sydney and going out and playing well for the boys this week,” he said.
“Anything later on in the future, if it comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, all I can control is playing well for the Rabbits.”
Reynolds has a perfect final audition on Friday night when he opposes Melbourne’s Queensland and Australian No.7 Cooper Cronk at ANZ Stadium.
“I don’t look at it as a personal challenge,” Reynolds said.
“He’s a fantastic player and he’s in great form, as he always is.
“All I can control is going out there for the Rabbits and doing my job for the team.”
Reynolds’ Rabbitohs teammates are all behind him, confident their little general wouldn’t let the Blues down.
“He’s a tough little competitor, he puts his body on the line every week and he directs our team around very well,” said winger Bryson Goodwin.
“I think everyone knows his kicking game; it’s all class, and his goalkicking as well; he’s one of the best in the league.
“So he’d bring all that to Origin.”
With Origin games and series historically going down to the wire, Goodwin said Reynolds’ goalkicking, in particular, could prove the difference for NSW.
NRL historian David Middleton last week revealed the Rabbitohs sharp-shooter’s astonishing 87 per cent success rate to be the greatest of all time, even eclipsing that of rugby league superboot Hazem El Masri.
“Obviously it’s very important. He won us the game up there against the Broncos not too long ago with a good goal kick,” Goodwin said.
“So if he gets a chance in Origin, I’m sure he’ll do it again.”