«I don’t know if he’s down on confidence. It’s hard to stamp your mark when the team isn’t going well. I certainly feel for him.»
Bennett’s dig at Penrith’s star halves will no doubt be seen by some at the foot of the mountains as a not-so-subtle square-up for not even considering him as a head coach before signing Ivan Cleary.
The supercoach maintained he was being honest rather than nasty with his comments and truly feared what would happen to a young player like Cleary if he was thrust back into the Origin cauldron in the form he’s in.
Reynolds has represented the Blues before and while he was solid rather than sensational against the Raiders, there was one passage of play with Souths halves partner Cody Walker against the Raiders that would not have been lost on Blues coach Brad Fittler.
«We’re hard on each other and trying to get the best out of each other,» Reynolds said of his combination with Walker.
«We’re also always trying to come up with ways to break the defence down. Tonight I called him around to the right and we got that [try to Mawene Hiroti]. If you throw in ‘Cooky’ [Damien Cook] we’re all combining well.
«I’ve experienced Origin before. I loved every moment. I wouldn’t let anyone down if I did get that opportunity again. If I get picked I’ll give it my all, but if I don’t, I’ll keep working hard for Souths.»
Apart from his monster long kicking game, Reynolds can also goal kick and won a premiership alongside Sydney Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary, another big Blues hope.
Walker and Cook combined beautifully for a try against Canberra. Cook will be there for the Blues and it’s likely either Reynolds or Walker will be as well.
Bennett stopped short of declaring his pair but said they were in form and playing with confidence, something that could not be said for Cleary and Maloney.
«I’m not pushing anyone from my club for selection, they’ll get selected on merit, but the point I’m making is the people who matter most have to stop talking about last year’s paring because they’re terribly out of form,» Bennett said.
«It’s a pity but it happens. It’s happened to good players before and it will happen again in the future. They’ll get their form back but it won’t happen in an Origin game, I can tell you.
«From my point of view, it’s too big a risk and not worth a risk when you have other players who are playing well and would fit into the team beautifully without a hiccup.
«Damien Cook is there as well. The three of them there they wouldn’t miss a beat. But that won’t happen I don’t think. They’re form players, they’re playing great football, they’re full of confidence.
«There’s nobody they’ll play in that Queensland team they haven’t played against at club level.»
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.