Wallace ready for second crack at captaincy
Peter Wallace doesn't shy away from the fact he ''didn't have a relationship'' with coach Anthony Griffin during their time together at the Brisbane Broncos.
Now he's Griffin's closest confidant – the Penrith Panthers skipper for the 2018 Telstra Premiership.
Griffin was the one who told him his services were no longer required at the Broncos, paving the way for Wallace to return to the Panthers in 2014.
So when Griffin was announced as Panthers coach at the end of 2015, it was assumed Wallace’s career prospects would take a dive.
But it’s been quite the contrary. ''It's just amazing,'' Wallace told NRL.com
''That's life again. You just never know what’s going to happen. We didn't have a relationship there at the start. For whatever reason, we’ve been brought back together at Penrith and it's just gone from strength to strength.
''We get along great now. We've got a good working relationship too. There was never an issue with us. But obviously, what went on in the past – it's gone full circle.''
When Griffin took charge of the Panthers in 2016, Wallace was largely considered damaged goods.
He was coming off two knee reconstructions and was being politely pushed towards retirement by a club looking to go in a different direction.
''It was always going to be questionable how I would come back, or if I even could come back,'' Wallace said.
''The club were looking out for their best interests as well, and I can understand that. I think if I couldn't have made the transition to hooker I think that definitely would have been my last year at Penrith and possibly my career as well.
''It was looking pretty bleak there at the start of 2016. Coming off a couple of knee recos, I didn’t really know what the future would hold.
“I got the opportunity to play hooker, which probably saved my career in the end. I have to thank Hook [Griffin] for that. He threw me in there and it’s been great. I'm really enjoying my footy and the role I play in the team. It’s definitely a move that prolonged my career.''
It's expected Wallace will retire at the end of this season, however he hasn't ruled out playing another year if his body gets through 2018.
His incredible comeback almost culminated in his return to the State of Origin arena, only for an injury on the eve of team selection denying the veteran of what he admitted was a goal he had set out to achieve.
Wallace hasn't given up hope of adding to his four appearances for NSW from 2008 and 2009, hopeful he can force his way into Brad Fittler's Blues team.
''I had a little bit of a goal of trying to push my claims for Origin last year,'' Wallace said.
''To be so close and for what happened, it was a freak injury too. For how it happened, it probably will never happen again to me. It was one of those things – the time wasn't right for whatever reason. Things happen for a reason, I believe.
''It was cruel at the time and it did take a bit of time to get over emotionally. It's definitely a goal, that's for sure. It's not my sole focus, but in the back of my mind I know if I can start the year well for Penrith and we're going well, I'm half a chance. I'm definitely thinking about it.''
Wallace has also spoken about the captaincy appointment, and the conversation he had with Griffin before Christmas.
The 32-year-old admitted he is far better equipped now than previously to handle the pressure and expectation that comes with the leadership role, something Matt Moylan seemingly struggled to deal with during his time as skipper of the Panthers.
''I don't know if he was ever fully comfortable with it,'' Wallace said of Moylan.
''It's something you'll have to ask Moyza. He had a bit of a frustrating year with injury – he just couldn't really get going. That didn't really help the issue. That's footy.