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Melbourne Storm forward Kirk Reynoldson always looks forward to playing Parramatta, as each encounter with his former club reminds the bearded prop of how close he came to giving away rugby league for good.
Several years before joining the Storm, Reynoldson spent two seasons with the Eels where he languished in reserve-grade and came perilously close to giving up on a career in football.
It was at Parramatta that Reynoldson was told we would never make the cut as a first-grade footballer in the NRL, yet five years later he is an NRL regular who?s star is on the rise.
?It?s always good to play against Parramatta because a lot of people at the club told me that I wouldn?t play first-grade,? Reynoldson said.
?I?ve basically done a full circle, so to play against them now, I?m proving to myself and a lot other people that I can play first-grade.
?Since I?ve been at the Storm we?ve beaten the Eels twice now, so it?s always good when we score a try and walk back to the kick-off knowing that I?m playing against Parramatta.?
The 25-year-old from the tiny town of Wandoan, near Toowoomba, joined the Eels in his first year out of school but struggled to adjust to the city lifestyle, which in turn, affected his football.
?I sort of got a little bit disillusioned at Parramatta when I wasn?t playing first-grade, I lost the plot a bit and I didn?t really know whether I wanted to play football again,? Reynoldson explained.
?I think because I wasn?t happy off-field I wasn?t happy when on was on the field. I was a bit of a fish out of water at Parramatta, I struggled with the size of Sydney and I?d never really been away from my family and friends like that.?
He eventually found his way to Melbourne, where his NRL career began under then coach Mark Murray, and hasn?t looked back since.
Reynoldson admits the Storm?s forwards will need to improve on last week?s performance against the Sharks if Melbourne is to snap a two-match losing streak against the Eels at Parramatta Stadium this Sunday.
?Last year the forwards laid the platform at the start of every game and we?re are a bit away from that at the moment,? Reynoldson added.
?We sat down this week and had a little chat about things and we?ve really worked on that area and while no one has to do anything drastically different, we have to find a bit extra to set that platform.?
The Storm will finalise preparations for Sunday?s match with a final training session at Olympic Park tomorrow morning (9.30am).