Reynolds makes a friend with kindred spirit

In one Sydney household, NSW Origin five-eighth Josh Reynolds will be fondly remembered long after the dust settles from this year’s Blues series victory over Queensland all because he allowed for a little boy to feel as though he was six feet tall and bulletproof. Tommy Norenbergs, 8, is smaller than most boys in his class and was losing confidence in being able to compete against the bigger boys on the footy paddock. His father Craig, the head of the ABC radio’s Grandstand program, said the height disadvantage was of such a concern to his son that he asked former Bulldogs great, and an old mate, Steve Mortimer, to explain to Tommy that, like bull ants, smaller guys could be tough, hard and uncompromising.  “But Steve took it a step further,” Norenbergs snr said . “He spoke to Josh Reynolds and a few days later a personally handwritten letter from Josh, which was full of inspiring messages, arrived in the letterbox and it meant the world to Tommy.” Norenbergs said the letter told plenty about Reynolds, who had been one of his state’s best in the series victory that ended eight seasons of loss, and the spirit that drove him.  “Don’t ever let people say to you that you’re small because Steve, you and myself as an eight-year-old weren’t the biggest but we were all fast,” Reynolds wrote.  “And we were never scared of tackling big players because when you tackle them around the legs they fall down very quickly. I wish you good things when you play rugby league and never, ever give up.” “What Josh did is not just about a little boy wanting to play rugby league but feels he’s too small,” Norenbergs said. “He’s given him a message about life; you don’t have to be the biggest and best but as long as you put your wholehearted effort into something you can succeed.” The story did not end there. After Origin II, Tommy was invited by James Maroun, a diehard Bulldogs fan, to his son”s birthday where Reynolds, as a close family friend, was the special guest.”It was a kind offer by James but it allowed for Tommy to look Josh in the eye and to thank him for the letter,” he said. “Josh was a thorough gentleman, a wonderful ambassador for both the Bulldogs and rugby league. “He was so nice to Tommy. He said all the right things to Tommy, even though it was a birthday party and there was a lot of people waiting to get things signed, he spent a considerable amount of time with Tommy to have a chat about playing and he answered Tommy’s questions – and shy ones, at that – about rugby league. “Josh might not know it but he has made a friend for life. Based on what I saw, and what he did, Josh is the kind of person that I would hope Tommy grows up to be.” And Tommy penned a message on a thank-you card that ought to have allowed Reynolds to appreciate the impact he had had on several kids who look to him for inspiration when he wrote: “Thank you for inspiring me and everyone else with big hearts.”
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