Wallace treasures chance to start Round 1
He starts a Round 1 clash for the first time in his career on Saturday night but Titans prop Jarrod Wallace insists he has had to earn it after his move from the Broncos during the off-season.
Wallace has been named to partner Ryan James up front for Gold Coast and will face a stern test first up at Cbus Super Stadium against a Roosters front row boasting the aggression of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and bone-rattling tackles of Dylan Napa.
Entering his sixth season in the NRL this year Wallace had never even played in a Round 1 fixture until last year for Brisbane against Parramatta where he came off the bench and played 28 minutes in the season opener.
The opportunity to be a regular starting front-rower was one of the lures to entice Wallace down the M1 to join the Titans but after groin problems hampered him early in the pre-season he says he had to earn the right to start in the countdown to the start of the season.
"I didn't just expect to come down here and be a starting front-rower," Wallace told NRL.com.
"Just before December I wasn't training as much as I would have liked because I had some groin problems but the coaching staff really looked after me and got me back on the field.
"I haven't had a problem since Christmas and we've got a lot of young forwards that have worked really hard and pushed for that spot.
"We work all of November, December, January, February to get to Round 1 so it's always an exciting time and a new team for me it's exciting.
"Obviously I want to be playing some good footy but starting is my goal and what I want to do and is the whole reason why I've come here, to be a starting front-rower.
"If I do get the spot on the weekend I'll be pretty stoked because I have had to work harder; I didn't just get it given to me."
Used at lock in the club's first trial against the Eels before shifting to his more customary position in the front row against the Warriors, Wallace has been challenged by coach Neil Henry to carry those performances into Round 1 and lead the way against a formidable Roosters pack.
"He has had to [earn it] and he knew he had to," Henry said.
"He was interrupted with a bit of his training to start off with but he's certainly been good on the field.
"The trial form was OK. He was playing good minutes and had some good carries out there as well.
"He was strong carrying the ball and solid defensively and that's what he needs to be. He needs to be a consistent player and play good minutes for us.
"He's enjoying being named up front and starting. It's up to him and Ryan to get out there and really lead from the front early in the game and I'm sure they will."
Prior to linking with the Broncos Wallace was in the Titans' junior representative programs and played a season with the Gold Coast under-20s in 2010.
He's now back and calling Cbus Super Stadium home and has some fond memories of attending Titans games as a youngster with aspirations of reaching the big time.
"When I moved back here [in 2009] I was playing SG Ball so we had the memberships and with Mum and Dad we'd go and watch the 20s boys play because there were a few boys I played with and then stayed to watch first grade," recalled Wallace, whose father Craig was a legend of bush footy with long stints at both Mudgee and Sawtell.
"Back then the crowds were big and it was good. Anthony Laffranchi was good mates with my dad so it was cool to watch him play."