NRL: Experience of Hasler key to Dogs' win

Reynolds' sensational season down to guidance from Canterbury coach.

Josh Reynolds. Photo / Getty Images
Josh Reynolds. Photo / Getty Images

Whenever Josh Reynolds has doubted himself in his breakout NRL season he has turned to coach Des Hasler for guidance.

Reynolds has been a revelation in just his second year in the NRL and a key figure in Canterbury's surge to the grand final with the 23-year-old's form marking him as a future NSW State of Origin five-eighths.

It's an incredible rise to prominence from a relative unknown at the start of the season and Reynolds has admitted doubts in his ability have surfaced at times during the season as his self belief waned.

Enter Hasler.

As a two-time premiership winning coach, two-time premiership winning player and NSW and Australia representative, Reynolds could not have turned to anyone better than Hasler to help him deal with the pressures of first-grade football.

As the Dogs seek to cap an incredible season with a grand final win on Sunday, Reynolds paid tribute to Hasler's ability to instil a steely belief among his players.

Asked at yesterday's grand final breakfast what was the most important thing Reynolds had learned from Hasler in his first year in charge of the Bulldogs, Reynolds replied: "I think it is the belief in myself.

"Sometimes as you are growing up, you might have a bad game here and there and you definitely doubt yourself. But when I have been doing a few bad things this year Des has just said to me 'we need to keep on working on it, but keep your head up and keep on trying things'.

"At the start of the year I set a few goals and I just wanted to get into the side because it is such a great side. We had Kris Keating and Trent Hodkinson there so I was going to be over the moon if I got a bench spot.

"And after my first start I just said I didn't want to lose it." Bulldogs skipper Michael Ennis backed Reynolds' call.

"I always had all the confidence in the roster we had there," Ennis said.

"It was just that we needed that little bit of structure and confidence that Des comes with and that wealth of experience."

If Reynolds and Hasler have bought an intensity to the Bulldogs, it is nothing that Melbourne are lacking under coach Craig Bellamy.

Bellamy claims he has mellowed, but the former NSW coach still cuts a brooding figure with a fierce desire to win.

Coaching boxes have borne the brunt of his frustrations for almost a decade but, in Cameron Smith, the Storm have one of the most personable players in the game. And Bellamy believes it's this yin and yang that has helped the Storm reach five of the last seven grand finals.

"He's calm and composed, unlike myself," Bellamy said.

But it wasn't initially all sweetness and light between the pair in the early days, with Smith's laid-back nature initially not going down well with the ultra-professional young mentor.

"He was a bit hard to put up with early in his career with his lack of time management, which would be the nice way to put it," Bellamy said.

"But that's how he is."

Smith said that Bellamy's tendency to rage is often a source of great amusement to the rest of the squad.

"If I wasn't there I don't know what would be going on in some of those meetings, he'd be going right off the handle," Smith said.

"I play a bit of a role there.

"I joke around a bit and take the piss out of him in front of the boys and it is a bit of a laugh.

"But I think it's good for Craig and for some of the other boys."

AAP

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