Regardless of how good you are, you’re always going to have something that doubts you’re capacities. And even though you reach the highest of levels and manage to play in the National Rugby League, you always need to prove that you’re worthy of it.
The NRL features the best league players from across the world and everybody expects a lot from the “star” players that they’ve come to know.
(This is part two of a three-part series)
Shaun Johnson (NZ Warriors)
The fleet-footed Kiwi international led his Warriors side onto the big stage in his rookie season. Shaun Johnson idolised and inspiring, left Warriors fans marvelling at what the future might hold.
That was seven years ago, and although we’ve seen glimpses of his best, Johnson has been consistently let down by the players around him. There’s no doubting Johnson, however, the New Zealand rugby league community haven’t yet seen their team participate in a finals series since 2011.
Johnson recently agreed to a new two-year deal. A fresh start, Johnson has the chance to utilise his potential to perhaps reinvigorate New Zealand rugby league, with a number of new signings on board.
It’s a new-looking Warriors outfit, but will it be enough for Johnson to work around? Often criticised, Johnson has a solid opportunity this season. The question is, will he take it with both hands?
Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons)
In five long years, Ben Hunt will still run out the sheds with the Red V.
What faith that Paul McGregor has installed, but will Ben Hunt return the favour? With a single signature, Ben Hunt ultimately became the Dragon’s first ever multi-millionaire. A six-million dollar deal, will Hunt be crushed by the weight of expectation.
He needs to justify his worth and has to ensure the Dragons that they made the correct decision to recruit the Origin star. There were indistinct patches of his best last season, most notably during the back-end of the season, striving for the hooker position.
It’s a new era in Rugby League, and it’s time for Hunt, to create a legacy of his own. We’ve seen his best at Brisbane, but can he showcase what to expect in the next half-decade in Wollongong?
Josh Reynolds (Wests Tigers)
Who would have thought Belmore’s favourite son Josh Reynolds would even fathom calling another club home? The homegrown local junior’s departure caught the rugby league community by surprise.
The self-proclaimed one-club man made the hardest decision of his life. To announce to those close to him that he’s leaving the only club he’s ever known. Ivan Cleary’s offer was clearly too good to refuse, and it may well result in a drastic culture change at Leichhardt.
We all saw how Reynolds did wonders for the players that he would surround and played part in forging a formidable culture within Belmore. Perhaps it’s the factor that’s prevented Wests to develop, culture.
The Tigers have produced some of the best players in the game right now, however, they haven’t been able to chance their arm. Although Josh Reynolds isn’t the most skilled player, his passion and grunt are exactly what Wests needs.
He has the capability of changing the environment around him, and he’ll want to prove to Canterbury, that his presence will be sorely missed. Reynolds will also need to grind back into the Origin arena, and with a young and talented halves partner in Luke Brookes, and the influence of veteran Benji Marshall, there’s no stopping the man they call ‘grub’.