Wallace loving life with Scotland

Penrith Panthers‘ new halfback Peter Wallace is counting down the days until his Scotland side face Tonga at Workington’s Derwent Park in their opening match of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

Steve McCormack’s men face the Tongans on Tuesday at 8pm before playing their second match five days later against Italy on Sunday at 4pm.

Wallace, 28, is particularly looking forward to his on-field combination with Super League‘s Man of Steel Danny Brough, with a number of pundits predicting they will forge one of the best halfback pairings in the World Cup.

Wallace, who leaves Bribane Broncos for Penrith at the end of the tournament,  is also excited about teaming up with fellow NRL-based players, Luke Douglas, the Gold Coast Titans prop, and Kane Linnett, the North Queensland Cowboys centre.

“It’s been really good training with Danny and I’ve heard a lot about him, but this is the first time I’ve trained or played with him,” said Wallace. “I think we’ve got a good combination going.

“I knew of a lot of the boys before I came out here, but it’s the first time I’ve met most of them.

“Luke and Kane are massively rated in Australia. Luke has a great record of playing in 190-odd games straight, and that’s unbelievable. Kane had a great year this year as well and I’m looking forward to playing with them.”

New South Wales State of Origin star Wallace is also wary of the quality in the Tongan team that Scotland will face on Tuesday night.

“The Tonga game will be tough, because they’re a very good team. The strength is in their front row and their outside backs. They’ve all been playing well for their clubs this season.”

Wallace, who qualifies for the Bravehearts via his grandmother who was born in Dunfermline, missed Saturday’s warm-up match against Papua New Guinea in Featherstone as he was at his brother’s wedding and only arrived in the UK on Monday lunchtime.

“I’m very proud of my Scottish heritage and this is certainly something I’ve wanted to do for a while. When I signed my first NRL contract, I filled out a form saying who I qualified for and it’s been in my mind ever since. It isn’t just a one-off thing either. I’ve thought about this and would be keen to come back for sure for future tournaments. It’s been a great experience so far.

“I’ve had a few training sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday and then a couple of us went up to Edinburgh for a day which was great.”

Wallace began his professional career with the Panthers before moving north to Brisbane Broncos in 2008. The highlight of his career was representing his New South Wales in State of Origin, which is one of the highlights of the Australian sporting calendar.

“I debuted in the NRL in 2005 and played one game for Penrith. I then did my knee in 2006 and missed the whole year, but then played a full year in 2007. I moved to the Broncos in 2008. 

“I’m very pleased to be going back to Penrith. If I was going to leave the Broncs, it’s the club I’d have liked to go to. We’ve recruited really well this year, with new blokes in the key positions. Our young players won the Under-21s and we have the biggest junior league in the Southern Hemisphere. [Former NSW coach] Phil Gould has been massive for the club as well since he went back there.

“Being in this World Cup squad is similar with Origin in that they’re all good blokes here and it’s a very enjoyable camp. Everyone in football circles is pretty much the same to be honest, so I was confident I’d enjoy it.”

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