For Jarrod Wallace, the chance to be coached by Wayne Bennett again was one he couldn’t turn down, but the prop had already told his manager he wanted to sign with the Dolphins before the Super Coach was locked in.
Speaking at a press conference after his third training session at his new club, Wallace said a fresh start and a chance to be part of history were just as enticing.
“Just the opportunity to come and play for a club like the Dolphins. The club speaks for itself … 75 years of heritage. You’ve got Artie who used to play here, guys that were fantastic players … I think it’s 15 Australian representatives,” he said.
Wallace recalled moments at the Titans when he would think about the players who had worn the jersey before him and the legacy they had earned.
“That’s what I want, to be able to build a legacy here for myself along with the Bromwiches and Kaufuci … so that one day in 10 years’ time, those kids want to play like we did. That’s what I want to do.”
Wallace is already making his mark, leading by example and encouraging players to work hard during training this morning.
“It wasn’t the fact that the boys were taking shortcuts, sometimes you come off a weekend and the boys are sore … a couple of young boys, after a couple of weeks or training, are a bit sore and they’re pulling up a little bit short of the line. That’s what us older boys are there for, to pull them back into line and push them hard,” he said.
Wallace said it was vital they all worked hard and were ready to go by round one.
The 31-year-old is now at his third Queensland-based NRL club, having debuted with the Brisbane Broncos in 2012 and playing for the Gold Coast Titans from 2017.
Arguably his best football was at the Broncos under Wayne Bennett, particularly in the 2015 season when the side went all the way to Grand Final but lost to the Cowboys 17-16 in golden point extra time.
Wallace said the time was right for a fresh start and playing for the Dolphins in 2023 was the challenge he wanted and needed, mentally and physically.
“My family and my base is on the Gold Coast, so to make the choice to come up here … it was tough but at the end of the day it was a no-brainer. The day that Wayne rang me and said he’d love to have me up here … it was a very easy choice for me to come up here, be a foundation player, help build a culture and start an NRL team from the ground up … it’s just the perfect opportunity. It’s the challenge that I wanted and I’m looking forward to,” Wallace said.
“I’ve been here three days and it’s fantastic. The boys on the field are fantastic, they’re already starting to build connections and there’s a really good vibe here and Wayne hasn’t even turned up yet.”
So, what was that call from Wayne like?
“I was actually laying in bed and I was going to ignore it (the call) because I was still asleep. I looked over and I saw Wayno’s (name) and said, ‘I better probably answer this’,” Wallace said.
“Our conversation went for about three minutes, I reckon. He said, ‘I want you to come up the road with me’ and I said, ‘OK, send through the contract’. That was about it.
But his interest was piqued before that moment …
“The day that I saw the Dolphins come in (to the NRL), I texted my manager and said, ‘I want to go up there’. Then, I saw Wayne become Head Coach and I said, ‘if you don’t get me there, I’ll fire you,” he said laughing.
Wallace knows what to expect from Bennett and he knows his coach will get the best out of him as a player.
“I remember Wayne coming in (2015), I didn’t know how my future was going to go with Wayne because he’d never really seen me play. He gave me the opportunity (for the Broncos) in round two against Cronulla, pulled me in the office and said ‘you’ve got one game to prove yourself or you can find another club’. He’s always been nice to me, Wayne,” he recalled laughing.
“He knows he can say that stuff to me and he knows I can handle it … he always gets the best out of me and that’s what I want this year. I know I’ve got plenty more in me and I know he’ll get it out of me.”
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