Injured Panthers playmaker Peter Wallace is back running and kicking at training with hopes to being in unrestricted training on his side's return from the Christmas break – though he says an Auckland Nines comeback may be just out of reach.
The luckless halfback suffered a second consecutive season-ending ACL tear late in 2015 in Round 20 against the Raiders (after an identical injury in Round 20 the year before against the Sharks).
While Wallace may not make the trip to Auckland in February Penrith should have the option of sending a stronger squad than they took in the 2015 pre-season, when virtually every big name on the roster was in the rehab group.
"It's been going well so at this stage I'll be back in full training in January," Wallace told NRL.com of his recovery.
"I'm running, changing direction, I've started kicking again, doing some light skills. Just really controlled stuff at this stage but it's all on track and I'm feeling good."
He said while he's been training on his own rather than with the main group in order to keep everything controlled, he's been watching the drills and has been impressed with how the rest of the squad has performed so far this pre-season.
"'Chicko' (James Segeyaro)i s going really well, 'Moysy' (Matt Moylan) has been back full training for a couple of weeks and he's going really well," he said. Moylan is continuing what has been a slow recovery from a season-ending ankle injury midway through last season.
"He's moving well. It's just one of those things he has to stay on top of. Once the year comes around his training might be monitored a little bit and if he needs a little break from training he'll just have to look after it that way but I don't think it's affected his movement or anything like that."
Wallace added Jamie Soward had been returning to full capacity before a minor back operation. "It was a little bit of a setback for him but it's one of those things that it's better getting it done now than trying to rehab it and not coming good then missing games but everyone's going really well," Wallace said.
Of the pre-season Dick Smith Auckland Nines tournament, Wallace said while it will probably be too early for him the club should be able to take a "pretty decent" squad over.
"We've got a lot of young boys with a lot of speed. We were a bit disappointing last year so we'll be looking to start off on a good note," he said.
"We'll probably be able to take a good squad because everyone's pretty fit this year. We've only got a few in the rehab squad so going into the Chrissy break having pretty much everyone 100 per cent fit is something different for us."