Will 2018 be captaincy candidate Peter Wallace's last season?
Panthers hooker Peter Wallace has declared his interest in taking over from the recently departed Matt Moylan as Penrith captain again in 2018, despite being unclear as to whether he will play on after next season.
Moylan's departure has opened the door for several candidates to take over as captain of Penrith's NRL team, including Trent Merrin, Isaah Yeo and even Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
But while a compelling case can be made for each candidate, Peter Wallace is the man most likely to regain the job after Panthers coach Anthony Griffin revealed in a recent Daily Telegraph interview that his 2017 stand-in-skipper is the likely choice.
Wallace says he would love to skipper the team again in 2018. Credit: 77 Media.
Such a decision would represent yet another 360 degree turn of sorts given the way Wallace's career was ended at Brisbane by Griffin only to flourish at Penrith under the same coach, despite losing the captaincy in 2016 to Moylan.
It's a point not lost on the 32-year old hooker, who would clearly accept the captaincy role on a full-time basis, if asked by the club.
"It's funny how life works and you never know what is around the corner in this game.but we'll see what happens there," Wallace told the Nepean News at last Saturday's hugely successful Panthers' Members Christmas party.
"If I get asked to do the job, it would be a huge honour and it's something I would love to do so.
"But there haven't been any discussions as yet and the decision looks like it will be made some time in the new year."
Just how long Wallace would be in the role should he be re-appointed as skipper looks unclear, given he and Josh Mansour are Penrith's key players coming off contract at the end of the 2018 season.
With the Panthers already operating under a tight salary cap, recent upgraded deals for Tyrone May and Dylan Edwards for 2019 and beyond, means there could be little or no room left in the 2019 cap to accommodate both players unless other contracted players are released early.
Peter Wallace says he is open-minded about his playing future post-2018. Credit: 77 Media.
Wallace concedes that 2018 could be his last, but will wait and see how the first few months of the season progresses before making a call on his future.
"I'm pretty open-minded. I haven't spoken to the club about my future at all but I'm in no real rush to make a decision," Wallace replied.
"I'm just getting through pre-season at the moment and then focusing on the start of next year.
"I just want to let things unfold, see how I start the year off next year and make a decision from there, which will be best made for myself and the club."
While Wallace’s exact future post 2018 remains unclear, it appears likely that should Wallace play on it will only be with Penrith.
In fact Wallace is hopeful that Penrith will be able to employ him in some coaching capacity if and when that time to retire comes.
"I have thought more about what post footy looks like over the past couple of years," Wallace admitted.
"I would like to get into the coaching side of things, it's something I think I would enjoy.
"I'm still passionate about rugby league and love the game so it (coaching) would be a chance for me to give back.
"Hopefully whenever that time comes (to retire) there might be a job here somewhere."
Wallace left shattered after a last minute loss in 2017. Credit: 77 Media.
While time is running out for one of the game’s longest servants yet to have played in a grand final, Wallace says the addition of James Maloney might just the key ingredient Penrith needs to realise their potential and challenge in for the 2018 premiership title as well as provide Nathan Cleary with much needed stability in the halves.
"I think I think he might be that missing piece we do need," Wallace declared.
"His experience is exactly what we need and he'll definitely help us with another kicking game option.
"Obviously he will be a massive help for Nathan and his development as well."
Wallace gets his barking instructions during last year's finals series. Credit: 77 Media.