Wallace wouldn’t swap hooker for halves

Peter Wallace now considers himself a No.9 for life.

And it’s not because he doesn’t believe the seven on his back doesn’t suit him, it’s just that with the success he’s found at hooker for Penrith, he doesn’t see himself ever returning to halfback.

“I could never see myself going into the halves now – I love it,” said Wallace ahead of Saturday’s semi-final against Canberra.

“I didn’t really know what to expect. I had a good idea of how I wanted to play. I’ve really enjoyed the role. My style suits the team as well.”

The 30-year-old Wallace shifted to hooker in the second round this year, and aside from a three-game return to the halves following the injury to Te Maire Martin, it’s there he has stayed.

And success has followed.

With one of the most inexperienced halves pairings in the competition in Bryce Cartwright and Nathan Cleary, Wallace has proved a much-needed cool head in the Panthers’ oft up-tempo gameplan.

“We’ve got certain structures we stick to,” he said.

“We try and play what’s in front of us too so I’ve just got to make the decision of where it goes.

“The boys are pretty clear in where and when they want it.”

The Panthers’ free-flowing style has worked to Wallace’s advantage too.

His finish of the team’s expansive try in Sunday’s 28-12 win over Canterbury was his fifth try of the season, his equal best with 2008 and 2011 when he was in the prime of his career at the Broncos.

He’s also still managed to set up eight tries and seven linebreaks.

It comes despite him losing the past few years of his career to injuries which forced him to miss Penrith’s 2014 finals campaign and half of the 2015 season.

It also saw him identified as being on the outer at the club over the off-season, when he had just one year left to run on his contract.

However he has now been re-signed until the end of 2018, with a new lease on his football for his sixth visit to the finals series.

“I’m definitely not taking it for granted,” he said.

“Every finals series is important but as you get a bit older your savour them a bit more.”

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