Main content

Panthers 'skip' to local beat

Panthers 'skip' to local beat
Greg Alexander is a huge fan of the decision to appoint local lad Peter Wallace co-captain of the Panthers in 2014. Copyright: Col Whelan / NRL Photos. Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos

When it comes to wondering why on earth Ivan Cleary would appoint a captain who has spent as little time at the club since the end of 2013 as Jamal Idris, you needn't go further than asking the bloke who'll be running out alongside him.

And in usual Kevin Kingston-speak, here it is: "It just makes sense."

"I think I was more rapt than him," the incumbent skipper told media on Monday.

"He didn't think in his wildest dreams he'd get to co-captain but when you work hard and you look behind your shoulders and there's people following you... he's done a really good job and it's a credit to him."

The Panthers yesterday announced that Wallace would co-captain the club alongside Kingston for season 2014 and while it might've come five years on, it's better late than never.

Wallace joins an exclusive list of home-grown halfbacks to lead the club into a new era. From Greg Alexander to Craig Gower, the Panthers have been blessed with some extremely talented playmakers.

And when news filtered through about Wallace's new responsibilities, Alexander could hardly contain his enthusiasm with the choice.

"In terms of recognition and how youngsters then look at the Penrith team and see that a local junior's the captain... that's an important thing," Alexander tells

Pick your Holden NRL Fantasy team now

"Pete's been made skipper, but he's had to come via Brisbane to do it. But he started at Penrith and played a few seasons there. It's good to have a local as a skipper.

"In the bigger picture, it's probably not that important on the field because you pick the right man to do it, but it's a good choice."

The other significant dynamic here is that the last time polarising five-eighth Jamie Soward partnered up with a leader as softly spoken as Wallace, he ended up wearing a premiership ring.

"I guess so, he's a little bit like Ben [Hornby] - he's a bit quiet off the field, likes his golf. The orange hair makes him a bit different," Soward grins.

"But look, he's a fantastic leader. He's been a fantastic player for the Broncos for a number of years now and he's played with one of the best five-eighths [Darren Lockyer] to play the game. So he knows what needs to be done to win games and I'm looking forward to sharing that experience this year hopefully.

"It's an important relationship you've got to have with your half, and we've been working really closely together and hanging out. It's going to take some time, but we'll get the results."

Wallace, 28, who was informed of the decision by Cleary last Friday, said he was over the moon to be sharing the responsibility.

"Basically he just said he wanted me to give Kevvy a hand and if Kevvy goes off the field or whatever, that I'm on the field so there's a captain on the field the whole time," Wallace said.

"It is up there [with Origin selection]. Unexpected, but it's a great honour. So to come back to a club on the rise especially, and a proud club like Penrith, it's huge."

Wallace returned to Penrith in December, eight years after debuting for the club. In mid-2007, the Lower Mountains product was released to join the Broncos after the club re-signed premiership-hero Craig Gower. But when the enigmatic halfback later jumped at a lucrative deal to play rugby union in France, the Panthers were left high and dry without an established No. 7.

Meanwhile, Wallace went on to play 139 games over five years alongside a rugby league Immortal, and comes back with four NSW Origin caps and nine finals games.

It will be the first time the former Blues halfback will captain a club, but Alexander insists that, give his big-game experience and coolness under pressure, making him captain just made sense.

"This is his ninth season in the NRL. He's played in some big games, and he's very calm," Alexander said.

"Actually, that's probably the quality that will make him a good captain. He never seems to get rattled, and that's a rare quality. He never gets too excited and never lets the moment get to him. Given his experience and the type of character he is, it's no great surprise."

Send to a friend:
Your Name:
Your Email:
Friend's Name:
Friend's Email:
loading image needs to go here