‘I never thought this day would come’

Published 1:13pm 15 May 2023

‘I never thought this day would come’
Words by Kylie Knight

While many in the Dolphins’ NRL squad are relishing the opportunity to go up against their former club – the Melbourne Storm – on Saturday, one player is excited about the game for another reason. The game will be Jarrod Wallace’s 200th at the top level.

“I definitely never thought this day would come. To be able to play one, two, three NRL games was massive and to sit here and say I’ve played 200 … it’s unreal,” Wallace told the media today.

“It’s a very special occasion for me and my family. My family have been through all 200 games – the ups and downs. I’m just very excited to be able to celebrate it. It’s a great occasion for myself with a great bunch of blokes.

“There hasn’t been too much talk about it yet, but don’t worry I’ll make sure I get into Wayne and make sure I let him know.”

The Dolphins squad are coming off a bye in Round 11 and preparing to face the Storm at Suncorp Stadium for their prime-time Round 12 clash on Saturday (7.35pm kick-off).

See the photo gallery from training today at the end of this story.

It will be the first of two home games in two weeks for the team, with the second at Kayo Stadium on May 25 (7.50pm kick-off) against the Dragons.

The Dolphins are sixth on the ladder, just behind the Storm who are fifth. The Storm are coming off a 24-16 win over the Broncos in Melbourne.

Saturday’s game will be the first time former Storm players Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi, Mark Nicholls and Brenko Lee have faced their old club as Dolphins.

For Wallace, it’s a moment he plans to enjoy as he finds consistent form since reuniting with former coach and mentor Wayne Bennett at the Dolphins in 2023.

“Obviously, he gave me an opportunity in 2015 to kind of revive my career when I wasn’t really getting too much game time … at the Broncs. To be able to come up here and play under him again is exactly what I wanted to do,” he said.

‘I never thought this day would come’

Tough love

That’s not to say he hasn’t been on the receiving end of many Bennett ‘sprays’ during his career.

“The one I’ll always remember was the one when I got pulled into the team for the first time and he’s like, ‘you’ve got one game to prove yourself or you can find yourself another club’,” Wallace recalled.

“That’s the one that’s stuck with me and it’s stuck with me forever. It’s also the reason I respect him so much. I knew where I stood with Wayne, he told me exactly what I needed to do and I did it and went on to play every game that year.”

Wallace believes the banter and a close relationship is as important to Bennett as it is to the players who know him best.

“I think that’s what keeps him young. He’s actually 173, not 73,” he said.

“He’s fun to be around. It’s like hanging out with your Grandad every day. It’s good to back with him and I’m just loving my time (here).”

Wallace says he has not been surprised by the consistency the team has been able to deliver so early in their first season.

“Day one that I got in here you got that feeling straight away. It started right from those young guys, even the train and trial guys who have been and gone, through that preseason. Once we started getting those more experienced guys back from the World Cup … we knew that we could do something special,” he said.

“We’ve got a team with a lot of ability but we’ve got guys that turn up every week – they do the little one percenters, their work horses … that’s right from 1-17. I know that anyone inside or outside me is always going to do their job and that’s obviously why we play for 80 minutes.”

See the photo gallery from training (click through)

By Dominika Lis

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