Having been in a "bad place" at times during a tumultuous off-season, Wests Tigers playmaker Josh Reynolds is extremely grateful to be back playing footy.
The 30-year-old declared he wants to own the hooker position this year after his solid 60-minute shift in the Tigers' 32-4 trial loss to Penrith at Panthers Stadium on Saturday night.
Speaking after the game, Reynolds reiterated his appreciation to the NRL for their support in clearing him to play while he vigorously fights a domestic violence charge.
Reynolds, who is next due in court on April 29, believes being proactive in telling the NRL about his situation was what "saved me".
"I was in a bit of a bad place when [my immediate playing future] was up in the air. Footy's my release," Reynolds said.
Match Highlights: Panthers v Wests Tigers
"I was definitely a bit worried. For the NRL to back me and put their faith in me I suppose, it's a great feeling. Just to step over the white line tonight despite the result was an awesome feeling.
"It all comes down to [that] everything's not black and white. I'm just happy that they understood. I was really, really hoping that they were going to come with me. I was on the front foot, I had nothing to hide and I never have."
Reynolds said his Tigers teammates and family and friends are helping him through the trying personal period.
As for his football, Reynolds is determined to secure the No.9 jumper.
He started at five-eighth versus the Panthers before a decent dummy-half stint in the second stanza when the Tigers had little possession.
"Obviously the hooker spot's up for grabs, [I'll play] a bit of utility if I don't get the hooker role," Reynolds said.
"I'm really enjoying [training at hooker], to be honest ... I felt really good [in the trial]. My motor felt good when we defended a lot of that second half when I was at hooker, so I think that's a good sign.
"My attack will come. I've played a bit of hooker in the past but I'm actually enjoying the role. I'm enjoying going to training and being a bit vulnerable because I don't know exactly what to do. It's a good feeling, it's a big challenge and I reckon I'm up for it."
The former Bulldog was sporting a black eye and a compression-bandaged forearm but said it wasn't cause for concern.
"It's all fake, I just want people to know I've had a tough game," he quipped.
"I feel good. Gee we had a tough pre-season, it was pretty gruelling. We said that today: obviously we didn't get the good result but we wanted to back our fitness, go out there and make sure we put all those army camps and training stuff onto the field."