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Bouncing back: Wallace ready to lead the charge again

By any measure, 2020 was something of a down year for Titans former Maroons prop Jarrod Wallace but a strong finish could have paved the way for a bounce-back season.

Wallace played five straight Origins in 2017 and 2018 but, troubled by minor back and hamstring issues, was left out of the Titans side for three weeks early in the season.

On his return, he was forced to play small minutes from the bench until round 15 as the emerging Moeaki Fotuaika and Jaimin Jolliffe commanded starting spots.

But the bounce-back process started before the season finished, with Wallace putting in some strong contributions as the Titans won five straight with him in the run-on side to finish the year – including a season-best individual effort in the round 20 demolition of Newcastle.

It wasn't enough to save his Origin spot though, as the likes of Christian Welch, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Lindsay Collins and Fotuaika helped engineer a shock series win.

How Wallace responds this year at club level with Fa'asuamaleaui just one of the high-calibre forwards recruited to the club alongside David Fifita and Herman Ese'ese could dictate where the 29-year-old's career heads once his current deal expires at the end of next year.

Analysing the Titans' 2021 draw

Struggles in 2020

Wallace didn't break the 100-metre mark in a game in 2020 until round 15 – his 12th of the year, third as a starter and first since returning to the starting side after being benched in round three.

He then cracked 100m every game for the rest of the year, finishing with a whopping 195m against the Knights in round 20.

In seven straight games from round seven he was used for half an hour or less, running more than 70 metres just three times in his first 10 games of the year.

That mid-year slump on either side of the three-week layoff brought Wallace's season averages down to the point it was his least productive year for average meters since joining the club in 2017, with his average minutes dropping from around 50 over the previous two seasons to 37.

Not necessarily a renowned tackle buster, Wallace had averaged about 25 per year going back to 2015 when he first started commanding a regular spot in the Broncos 17. He managed just nine last year.

His defensive output didn't change much; while his tackles per game slipped based on reduced minutes his effectiveness was in line with previous years.

A late surge

After being reintroduced to the starting team in the round 15 loss to Canberra, Wallace helped the club to five straight wins, averaging 140 metres per match.

Those last six games included three try assists and in the five wins he popped 12 offloads and looked rejuvenated.

The Titans' 2020 season in review

Bouncing back?

The confidence those last five games will give both Wallace and the rest of the playing group could prove critical.

Surrounded by a potent pack with those three recruits alongside the rapidly-improving Fotuaika could breed further confidence and momentum.

It will be up to Wallace to capture that and continue what he started at the end of 2020 because if not, there are more than enough capable middles at the club now that no player can consider their spot guaranteed.