Wallace admits: It was make or break

When you step out of the shadows the spotlight that greets you can often be paralysing but Titans prop Jarrod Wallace says that if he hadn't left the Broncos he may never have realised a potential that has him on the verge of an Origin debut.

Wallace joined the Queensland camp as 18th man following the withdrawal of Johnathan Thurston on Thursday and is now a Nate Myles knee injury or other emergency away from running out for the Maroons at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday night.

For a player long considered a future Origin prospect but whom had started in just 10 of his previous 73 NRL games, leaving the sanctuary of the Broncos to become a prized recruit at the Titans put Wallace in a position where he had to sink or swim.

He has revelled in the extra responsibility and become one of the most durable and industrious front-rowers in the game, averaging 144 metres and 33 tackles from 59 minutes per game to become the leader of the Titans pack.

 


Against his former club in Round 7 he racked up an astonishing 264 run metres and busted the 200-metre mark again against Melbourne three weeks later and says the challenge of joining a new club has allowed him to redefine what he can deliver as a player.

"I think it was a move that when I spoke to my family about it, it was going to be make or break for my career," Wallace said of the change of clubs.

"I could have come down here and done what a lot of players have done in the past and got comfortable.

"I'd just signed a three-year deal and I could have got comfortable and started playing rubbish footy.

"But I took it as a real challenge to get out of the shadow of the Broncs and get out of the shadow of the boys that I was always that step behind all the time and really become my own man and my own player and make a real dominant [player of] myself in the NRL."

Eleven games as a starting prop was enough to put Wallace on the verge of Origin selection, the 25-year-old tormented by a phone call from Maroons coach Kevin Walters on Monday morning.

As Gold Coast coach Neil Henry oversaw the deconstruction of his team's capitulation to the Sea Eagles in Monday morning's video review, Wallace made it clear to everyone in the room that if his phone rang he would be getting up and walking out.

And then it rang.

"I was like, 'Do I actually walk out?' I was only joking, I didn't think he'd ring," Wallace recalled.

"But then Craig Hodges, our assistant coach looked at me and gave me the head nod, so that was good.

"I was so nervous and numb about what was going to be said I probably panicked a bit and tried to make a joke or something; I don't really remember it all happened that fast.

"The first phone call I got was just saying I was going to be left out for Game One.

"Obviously I was devastated I wasn't going to get the chance [to play] but I completely understood.

"[When I walked back in] a few of them looked at me and had this big blank look on their face and I just looked at them and shook my head and they were just disappointed for me."

Wallace's disappointment was tempered by Walters informing him that he would be joining the squad in camp later in the week, a stay that will now carry all the way up until kick-off following the withdrawal of Thurston on Thursday.

"To be able to come in here and train with the boys I've watched on TV for 10 or 15 years is pretty cool," said the 25-year-old.

"[Walters] said he always wanted me to come into camp just to get the feeling of camp and get amongst the boys so that if one day if I ever did play it wasn't such a rude shock.

"Obviously there's so much excitement and so much going on here it can overwhelm a player, so I think that was a really good idea.

"Especially for me personally, I'm only young and to come in here and learn off guys that have done it for 15 years and played at the highest level, I'll take a lot of confidence and experience out of this and hopefully take it back [to the Titans] and pass it on or just be better for my game.

"I'll benefit from it definitely."