In a career spanning the better part of 12 years, Peter Wallace is set to play his 200th first grade game against South Sydney this Friday night. Well overdue, Wallace has had to overcome injuries, form-slumps and positional changes to reach the milestone, but will mark the occasion with the club where the journey all started.
Speaking with Nepean News and other media today, Wallace was as quietly spoken as ever, briefly touching on the personal achievement that Friday presents, but was quick to divert back to the bigger picture.
“It’s a nice personal achievement to reach; personally it’s good but most important is the game on Friday,” he said.
Wallace is no stranger to adversity. Having successfully transitioned back to the Panthers, he was cruelled by two season-ending knee injuries in 2014 and 2015, both occurring on the same leg. Speaking openly about the process of making it back to first grade, Wallace said that there might be a silver lining to the lengthy stints he had on the sidelines.
“The last couple of years there was probably some doubts, especially last year after I did my knee again,” Wallace continued.
“I was confident that if I could have the surgery and it went well that I’d be right to get back, there was always that doubt I suppose. I knew if I could get that (knee) right that I’d be sweet, you never know it could be a little blessing in disguise. I could get a couple more years out of my body seeing I haven’t played a lot of footy the last couple of years.”
Wallace has played much of his career north of the border with Brisbane, however he has settled in nicely back at Penrith. With injuries to key personnel early this season, Wallace stepped in to fill the void at hooker and has welcomed the new challenge with open arms.
“It probably was a bit of a freshen up, it gives you a new way to look at and play the game. I’m really enjoying it actually; you have a different control over the game so it has been good. I’m pretty happy playing hooker at the moment so I might be a number nine from now on,” he said.
Wallace has had a representative career most forget, playing for City, New South Wales and Scotland during his time. Now 30, he plans to play on, with his manager in talks with the Panthers for 2017 and beyond.
“My manager is talking to the club now so hopefully everything goes smoothly, in a couple of weeks we should have something sorted hopefully,” he said.
With Jamie Soward and James Segeyaro falling out of favour and missing from the first grade side, Wallace knows there is experience lacking, but praised the young herd of players stepping up for the club.
“You take those two out (Soward and Segeyaro) and there’s almost 300 games missing, I suppose I’ve had to take on more of a senior role. I’m really impressed by the young blokes that have played this year, I thought they’ve performed really well but they’re good young fellas too, they know there’s a long way to go but everything’s looking positive for them.”
Penrith currently sit 9th on the NRL ladder and need to string a few wins together leading into the business end of the season. Coming off a last start win over Manly and a bye to rest weary legs, the past fortnight has given the playing group a big boost and with a big crowd in Friday, the run home will hopefully get off to a good start.