Josh Reynolds has come to former teammate David Klemmer’s defense amid reports the front rower could be axed for disciplinary breaches over the weekend.
Klemmer is said to have ignored instructions from coach Adam O’Brien to come from the field and verbally abused a Knights trainer in the latter stages of the loss to the Bulldogs.
Newcastle issued the enforcer a show-cause notice for the incident, which means Klemmer can’t even train with the team and will sit out this Sunday’s game against the Tigers.
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The fact Newcastle took such strong action against Klemmer only intensified speculation there could be more at play as reports surfaced that the 28-year-old could be sacked.
speaking on Sky Sports Radio’s ‘The Big Sports Breakfast’ on Thursday morning, Reynolds said it would be “the biggest joke ever” if Klemmer was axed over Sunday’s incident.
“When I’d seen it, I honestly thought it was a gee-up article, when they said he could sacked,” Reynolds, who played with Klemmer at the Bulldogs, said.
“I honestly did. I fully read it and was like: ‘Nah, this is legit’. It’s honestly the biggest joke I have ever, ever heard if they are even considering sacking him.
“First of all, when you sign a player the CEO will be like: ‘I want you to be passionate for this jersey’. If you’ve got a guy there who doesn’t want to come off, he never gets hooked and it’s not like he was playing bad, he doesn’t want to come off because he just wants to be out there.
“You’ve got a guy who showed a bit of emotion because he doesn’t want to come off at that time and you’re saying you’re possibly going to sack him because of that?”
Like many others, Reynolds said there must be “more to it”, declaring that the Knights “don’t deserve” a player of Klemmer’s quality if he ends up being moved on as a result.
“As you know in the heat of the moment, emotions are everywhere,” he said.
“You may say some things and do some things that isn’t you and I’ve done it thousands of times. I’ve had conversations with teammates and trainers.”
Reynolds then went one stop further, revealing one disagreement he had with then-Tigers defensive coach Andrew Webster after making the switch from the Bulldogs.
The five-eighth explained that the pair initially clashed over Webster’s defensive philosophies but came to form a “great relationship” after getting through the early differences of opinion.
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“When I went to the Tigers they had a very different defensive structure to the Dogs,” Reynolds said.
“At the Dogs we were very jammy from centre, stay on the backrower all the time and sweep around the back whereas the Tigers, Andrew Webster our defensive coach wanted us to double D a lot more, possibly get off the lead to get to the fullback and there was times at training where I wouldn’t do that.
“I’d sit in the chair and didn’t get off to the fullback and he’d come up to me at that exact moment and be like: ‘Grubby, come on’ and I’d get so frustrated at him, I ‘d be like: ‘Get off the field, we’ll talk about it later’.
“At the same time, we’d go away and I’d say: ‘Look mate, we’ve got a fairly new relationship’ and I said: ‘I need you not to do that with me at that exact moment because my emotions are high, I want to learn don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the time and place’. “We got through that and we’ve got a great relationship now.”
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But in this case, The Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio said Newcastle see it as a “line in the sand moment”, a chance to “take a stand” and make a strong statement on player behaviour.
Reynolds though said unless there is more to the story, on the surface this seems like unnecessary drama the Knights could do without.
“In the heat of the moment this has happened,” he said.
“It’s not even a thing, I don’t even think it’s a thing you’d talk about. He takes things home with him Klem, he’s the guy who really thinks about it, loves the game and he’d be feeling pretty crap about it.
“He’d feel like he’s tried to do the best for his team.”
That sentiment appears to be shared by some of Klemmer’s teammates, who The Daily Telegraph’s Michael Carayannis reports are “extremely frustrated” by the club’s actions.
That is supported by The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Chammas, who wrote in a column on Thursday that Klemmer’s teammates have sent him messages of support.
Chammas also reported that the Rugby League Players Association is “bemused” by the incident and sat down with Klemmer on Wednesday to get to the bottom of it.
speaking on SEN 1170 BreakfastCarayannis said Klemmer will front the Knights board later this week to explain the incident while some teammates will also be questioned.
“Part of the investigation I guess will be references from some of Klemmer’s teammates who were on the bench, Pasami Saulo, Mat Croker and Brodie Jones were the players who were off the field when Klemmer came to the bench on Sunday,” Carayannis said.
“Then you’ve got Danny Buderus who sits on the interchange bench as well, then you’ve got the likes of Craig Catterick and Blake Green who are the other trainers.
“There’s a high-profile list of people who’ll be asked what they heard, the tone, the aggression and how long it went for. It’ll be an interesting few days for David Klemmer and the Newcastle Knights.”