Johns has labelled the Rabbitohs’ offer of a one-year deal to the 31-year-old star halfback as a “crazy decision” that saw Reynolds choose more security in Brisbane.
Losing the dynamic duo of Reynolds and Cody Walker, who were inches away from winning the grand final, the Rabbitohs struggled with their new halves pairing – combining the young Lachlan Ilias and Walker – in their loss to the Reynolds-less Broncos on Friday to kick-off their season.
The Broncos signed Reynolds on a three-year deal, something South Sydney were unwilling to offer the halfback, who had been a star at the club for the best part of a decade.
On the SEN 1170 Breakfast show, Matty Johns let his feelings be known.
“What we saw again from Souths (on Friday) was the crazy decision to allow Adam Reynolds to leave the club,” Johns told SEN 1170 Breakfast.
“Ilias is a very good player and he’ll end up going on to play 200 games.
“But it takes you 30 to 40 games to not just get used to the pace of NRL football but then on top of that to organise other guys into shape.
“They were saying he’s a very good talker and a good organiser, but this is another step up.
The issue isn’t only that you are substituting one of the games best halfbacks with a mostly unproven player. It is the pressure that is now on Walker's shoulders to create almost every attacking opportunity for the Rabbitohs.
“It just puts a huge strain on Cody Walker and you can see how much adjusting they still have to do,” Johns said.
“I couldn’t understand the Adam Reynolds decision back then and I don’t understand it now.”
It isn’t just Johns who noticed the impact Reynolds’ absence had on Walker in the first game of the season. Both Greg Alexander and Cameron Smith commented on his attitude as the game came to its end.
“You could see the frustration in Cody… He’d had enough and they can’t afford to have that Cody,” Alexander said.
Smith agreed with the sentiment.
“He withdrew from the game even earlier than 10 minutes to go.
“He looked like he wasn’t interested.
“He’s going to have to learn how to adapt (because) the unfortunate thing is that Adam Reynolds isn’t coming back.
While it is only the first game of the season, and reactions shouldn’t read too far into it, there is no doubt that Walker will have a heavier load in 2022.
If he isn’t prepared to carry it, the decision to let Reynolds go could be disastrous for the Rabbitohs.