Ben Blaschke, NRL.com
It hasn’t been the smoothest of seasons for the Brisbane Broncos, who find their premiership campaign on the precipice following last Sunday’s deflating 18-16 loss to the Warriors, but halfback Peter Wallace is predicting a much stronger finish courtesy of his ever-improving partnership with five-eighth Scott Prince.
The veteran duo have reflected the Broncos’ wobbly form in 2013, often showing glimpses of brilliance but otherwise struggling to make their impact felt. To put it into perspective, fullback Corey Norman has produced more try assists and line-break assists this season than Wallace and Prince combined.
But after a 32-12 thrashing of Wests Tigers in Round 14 and a desperately unlucky loss to the Warriors last Sunday, Wallace believes they are starting to find their mojo.
“It’s taken some getting used to I suppose, having Scotty there, but I thought the past two weeks with the way we’ve come together, we’ve played pretty well,” he said.
“Like anything, a new combination takes a little while to get going.
“I think the fact that we’re both similar players has been the biggest thing that has taken us a while – I like to take control and he is a bit the same so it’s just a matter of balancing that.
“But for the past few weeks especially we’ve done that really well. We’re sort of getting used to each other now so I think we can keep that going and working for us for the rest of the year.”
Wallace said he and Prince had spoken to each other recently about improving their on-field communication in order to avoid any unnecessary confusion. While Prince has brought some much-needed experience to the Broncos this season, the fact that both he and Wallace are seasoned campaigners proved more of a hindrance than a help during the early rounds as they struggled to fit into their exact roles.
“The main thing for us recently has been speaking to each other a bit more before we direct a set or tell the team what we’re going to do. We’ve been really trying to communicate with each other and go from there,” Wallace said. “The last few weeks have been a lot better. We’re starting to understand each other and know how each other plays, so it’s feeling a lot more comfortable. Hopefully we can build on that now.”
While Brisbane find themselves at the crossroads following last week’s loss to the Warriors – currently two competition points out of the top eight in 12th spot – they aren’t panicking just yet.
That much-needed win over the Tigers and a performance that could easily have seen them come away with the two points in Auckland have the Broncos feeling confident that they can still mount a late-season surge with the representative period soon drawing to an end.
“It’s never an easy time of year but all the boys that played Origin played a great game on the weekend, so that’s a positive,” Wallace said.
“What we did on the weekend was a step in the right direction – our defence was probably the best it’s been in a long time over the past few weeks and we did all the little things right, kick-chased and turned up for each other. It was a big change from how we were playing before the Tigers game.
“We know the situation we’re in at the moment and we know what we need to do to get out of it. It’s just a matter of getting on a bit of a roll but we’re not going to lose any confidence out of the weekend’s game so hopefully we take what we did really well last week and carry that on.”
Just how much the Broncos have progressed will be put to the test on Friday night when they travel to Melbourne for a date with old rivals Melbourne at AAMI Park. The Storm haven’t been at their best in recent weeks with consecutive losses to the Gold Coast and Wests Tigers, but with captain Cameron Smith returning from injury Wallace knows Brisbane must put it all together if they are to come away with victory.
“They are always hard no matter what they’ve been going through and we expect a tough game against them,” he said. “They’re one of the top teams in the comp and have been for a long time. We played pretty well against them last time but they got away from us at the start too much and we couldn’t run them down.
“But we learnt from that and we know what a boost it would be for us to beat them this week – especially given it’s a situation where we need to win. To beat them down there would give us a lot of confidence and maybe get us on the roll we need.”