Wallace ready to step into new role at Titans
They are the shadows he's been desperate to step out from behind his entire career but now Titans recruit Jarrod Wallace believes he has the freedom to become more than a bit-part player.
After six years in Brisbane Wallace returned to the Titans at the club's new headquarters at Parkwood International on Thursday but was spared the gruelling fitness test in steamy conditions as he nurses groin injuries he carried through the back-end of the 2016 season.
Plucked from Sawtell on the New South Wales north coast as a self-confessed "chubby 16-year-old", Wallace first played for the Titans in the under-20s competition in 2010. But with the club's front row stocks boasting the likes of Luke Bailey, Brad Meyers and Matthew White Wallace looked beyond the glitter strip for an opportunity to play first grade.
That opportunity emerged at the Broncos but with only 10 starting appearances across five NRL seasons at Brisbane it is those same shadows of established players in his position that has sent him south once more.
"I didn't have the opportunity to be looking at NRL here," Wallace said of his previous stint on the Gold Coast.
"The guys that were here such as Luke Bailey, foundation props, I just didn't have the opportunity like I was going to have at the Broncs.
"I went up there for the opportunity, took it with both hands and now I'm back!
"That's definitely my goal this year, to be a full-time starting front-rower. I'm looking forward to the challenge of the pre-season and getting fit.
"I'm sure new players coming in will want that spot just as much as I will so there are no guarantees but that's definitely what I'm aiming for."
Born on the Gold Coast, Wallace has played 53 of his 63 career games to date from the bench and said that the same factor that drove him from the Titans initially was ultimately what brought him back.
"The opportunity to be a starting front-rower was probably higher here," Wallace said of his decision to sign a three-year deal with the Titans.
"Up at the Broncs they still had Sammy [Thaiday], 'Blairy' (Adam Blair) and [Josh] McGuire and even with [Corey] Parker leaving there was the opportunity to be back home down here with my family.
"It was a big decision. I was there for my last year of 20s and then to start my career there, it was a very big decision.
"They've pretty much got me to where I am today in my career but I'm looking forward to the challenge of stepping out of the shadow of a few of the boys I've been playing with up there.
"I've learnt some very valuable lessons in footy over the times with the people I've played with and I'm just looking forward to playing with a lot of young guys that I haven't played with before and playing with some guys that I have played with before."
Since Wallace committed his immediate future to the Titans in July the club has since added high-profile recruits in Jarryd Hayne and Kevin Proctor to a roster that rivals any in the competition.
The development of Wallace into a dominant front-rower capable of pushing for a Queensland Origin spot is paramount to Gold Coast's prospects of bettering their results of 2016.
Coach Neil Henry has Wallace, Ryan James, David Shillington, Paterika Vaivai and youngsters Morgan Boyle and Kurt Bernard as front row options but the former Bronco is determined to be in the run-on side come Round 1.
"Every player wants to be a leader at their club and that's definitely what I want to be," said Wallace.
"I don't want to come here and just fill a number; I want to be a starting front-rower and a leader.
"If I can have a good pre-season I definitely think I'll be up there with a chance.
"They played some really good footy last year. The players obviously really banded together and played some good footy and some good combinations so I'm really looking forward to a good pre-season and getting out there January-February next year and playing some footy with them all."