Panther Wallace closing in on new NRL deal

Just a year after considering giving up on the game, Penrith veteran Peter Wallace is closing in on a contract extension with the NRL club.

After twin ACL reconstructions over back-to-back seasons, the 30-year-old was on his last legs at the turn of the new year as he fought to regain form and fitness.

But a shock move to hooker at the start of the season has revived his footballing career, and is now likely to result in a new deal with the club within the next fortnight.

“I had talks with (Phil Gould and Anthony Griffin). They want me here next year and I want to stay. It’s just a job for my manager and Gus (Gould) to get that sorted within a couple of weeks,” Wallace told AAP.

Through 14 games this season, the former NSW State of Origin representative has toiled strongly in his first stint as a full-time rake, averaging just under 30 tackles, missing just two.

They’re impressive numbers that have seen the local product survive a surprise mid-season cull of experienced campaigners that included former halves partner Jamie Soward and James Segeyaro.

It was an elbow injury to Segeyaro in March that paved the way for Wallace to fill-in at hooker.

“It’s been a bit of a change but it’s been good, I’m really enjoying it the different aspects of the game. It’s actually freshened me up,” he said.

The departure of Soward in particular leaves Wallace as the oldest player in the club by almost an entire year, a role he has embraced despite losing the captaincy over the summer.

Having recently hit the 200-game milestone, Wallace’s experience will be vital to nurturing through the team’s first-choice halves pairing of Nathan Cleary and Te Maire Martin, both of whom are under 21.

“I’m oldest by a fair way too, I think. Jeremy Latimore just turned 29, although he acts like he’s 19 and looks like he’s 39,” Wallace said.

“Leadership sits well with me.

“Obviously Matt Moylan’s captain but I try to help the young boys when I can. Being the oldest, the most experienced, you do have that responsibility to make sure you’re doing the right thing, not just in the game, but at training and off the field as well.”

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