Peter Wallace could stay at hooker even after James Segeyaro’s return from injury, according to Penrith boss Phil Gould.
Gould said it was not a foregone conclusion that Segeyaro would wear the No.9 jumper upon his comeback from a broken arm due to the outstanding job done by Wallace in his stead.
Since coach Anthony Griffin made the surprise decision to move Wallace from halfback into dummy-half during Segeyaro’s lay off, he has been one of the side’s most consistent performers.
When they were together at Brisbane in 2013, Griffin moved Wallace to the bench utility position, following the emergence of Ben Hunt, but has had just a handful of games at No.9 during his career.
Entering the season, moving Wallace to hooker was never in Griffin’s plans but his hand was forced by injuries to Segeyaro and back-up rake Sione Katoa went down at the Auckland Nines.
The side could have elected to blood young gun Zach Docker-Clay but there is a belief within the coaching staff that he is not yet ready for first grade.
Wallace has handled the extra demands of defending in the middle of the field, making an average of 32 tackles at hooker compared to 18.4 at halfback during 2015-16, according to Fox Sports Stats.
As well as being saddled with a heavy defensive load, he has still sparked the side in attack and has given Griffin pause for thought when Segeyaro makes his comeback, expected to be against Cronulla next week.
“He’s certainly playing himself into that role,” Gould said of Wallace.
“Whether or not that’s the long-term role for him, that’s up to the coach, I don’t pick the team.”