Todd Greenberg sat in his office at Rugby League Central last month alongside Wests Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe and head of football Adam Hartigan, waiting for Josh Reynolds to arrive.
The meeting, which was desperately organised by Reynolds, was the five-eighth's last-ditch bid to convince Greenberg to allow him to continue playing in the NRL despite a domestic violence charge hanging over his head.
Charges have been dropped against Josh Reynolds just two weeks out from the start of the NRL season.Credit:AAP
Organised for 10am, there was still an empty seat at 10.l5am and a few phone calls later, none of which were answered, it became apparent to everyone in the room that something wasn't right.
Nobody could track him down. Not the club, not even his own manager.
The meeting was weeks in the making, but by the time Christmas break was over and everyone was back into routine, Reynolds had all but given up.
He knew the game's strong position on any charges relating to women, and regardless of how innocent he knew he was, privately he couldn't shake the feeling that the NRL would not risk a potential public relations disaster by backing their player against a woman claiming injuries at the hands of a footballer.
He had confided in those closest to him that if the NRL stood him down, he would walk. Walk away from rugby league. Walk away from the remaining two years of his $850,000-a-season deal. Walk away from it all.
And on the eve of the meeting with Greenberg that he'd waited nearly six weeks for, it all became too much.
Reynolds never turned up to that meeting because, frankly, he wasn't in a state to do so. Nor was he in a state to answer the flurry of phone calls that followed the morning he was meant to show.
He had drowned his sorrows the night before, struggling to combat an overwhelming feeling that the game he so dearly loved, was about to turn its back on him.
Reynolds tried. He wanted his story out there. After all, he had nothing to hide. But he hit legal road blocks at every turn.
So he resorted to subliminal messages through Instagram, which to those unfamiliar with the backstory meant diddly squat.
Reynolds cares, probably too much, of what people think of him. Always has. It's why the charges, which on Wednesday were dropped by police, ate away at him to the point where he'd lost the appetite to fight for himself.
This is a man who, weeks before charges were laid against him, marched into the NRL Integrity Unit to warn the governing body of the mess that was about to unfold.
Just two months later he'd lost the desire to march himself back in and defend what he once fought so desperately to keep. Greenberg reached out to him in the ensuing days, more to check on his welfare than anything else. And on Wednesday he called him again.
Reynolds' story was so unbelievable that even the player himself didn't know where to start. But when Channel Nine reported how his former partner Arabella del Busso, had allegedly had faked pregnancies and family deaths with Reynolds and used multiple aliases over the years, the Instagram stories began to make sense. And for Reynolds, so did life.
Then Greenberg did what Reynolds hoped he would, but feared he wouldn't. He considered all the evidence and backed him. He applied discretion, not a need to uphold consistency.
“I knew I was going to feel great when I got a result," Reynolds told Channel 9 on Wednesday night after charges against him were dropped.
"I obviously can’t explain the feeling, I’ve had so many ups and downs over this last year and a bit. To get this news today, it’s the best news I’ve had in a long time. It’s shocking and scary."
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