Returning Wallace weighing up his future
It's a tricky time for the Panthers with four players unsure if they will back up two days after Origin I, but they've received a boost with captain Peter Wallace declaring he'll be a certain starter after missing the last two games to a shoulder injury.
Wallace was confident he could have returned for the top-of-the-table clash against the Dragons but with big guns James Maloney, Nathan Cleary, Tyrone Peachey and Reagan Campbell-Gillard all on deck before winning Origin selection, the hooker knew he could get away with another week's rest.
"I'll be right for Canberra," Wallace said.
"I would have been pushing pretty close to last week but given we had the bye this week I just thought I'd give it an extra couple of weeks."
With Wallace off contract at the end of the 2018 season his future is uncertain, but the 32-year-old said there are a couple options he is currently weighing up which will be announced in the coming months.
"There hasn't been much discussion around my future just yet. I'm still tossing up a few things but I'll probably make the decision in the near future," he said.
"I've had no pressure from the club or on myself so I'm just weighing everything up and I'll make the decision in the next month or two.
Losing players isn't unfamiliar territory for the Panthers, who have lost six players to injury in the first half of the season.
Depending on how the big four come through Origin I, they could again find their depth tested against the Raiders in round 14.
Wallace says the young boys have already shown they can step up despite the adversity they've faced and he is positive they can do it again.
"The start of the year we've had with all the injuries it's been a bit of a blessing in disguise maybe, it's given a few boys an opportunity where they might not have got that and everyone whose come in has done a great job," Wallace said.
"We will train as if they're not playing and if we get them back then it's a bonus.
"Hopefully all of the Origin players can back up but if someone can't I have no doubt that whoever comes in will do a good job for them."
Wallace and teammate James Tamou have had their share of Origin matches and understand how tough it is to back up with the short turnaround. Tamou says although it's taxing on the body he has no doubt their four players will do what they need if tapped on the shoulder to play on the Friday night.
"It's pretty gruelling to back up after Origin," Tamou said.
"I think there was only one time for the Cowboys where I played Wednesday night and had to back up on Friday and it was gruelling but I think the guys that are in there are ultimate professionals and they'll do the right thing."
Tamou can't wait to watch his fellow Panthers take on the Maroons at the MCG, in particular Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who he says is made for the Origin arena.
"I can't wait to watch them," Tamou said. "Especially big Reg (Reagan), I think the stage was made for a player like him and I think he'll do some damage."