Almanac Rugby League: Boyd and Wallace walk away, one more easily and comfortably than the other

National Rugby League

Two top-flight players who have played with contrasting styles have announced that they are taking significant steps away for the game. Broncos captain and long-serving Queensland and Australian fullback/winger Darius Boyd has stood aside from representative footy ahead of Game 2 of this year’s interstate series. Penrith captain and former NSW Origin half-back Peter Wallace has retired totally from the code, effective immediately, due to ongoing knee problems.

 

Boyd was not named in the Maroons squad for Game 1 of Origin and was then further overlooked when Billy Slater was forced to withdraw. It’s no secret that Boyd has been below his usual standard for most of the season although he put in an inspired first half against the Storm on Sunday. Has he sniffed something in the wind? Perhaps it’s time to withdraw to clubland at least partially on his own terms. Queensland has younger talents to cover fullback in Kalyn Ponga and Valentine Holmes while Michael Morgan filled the role strongly in Game 1. Perhaps the bigger question has to do with Boyd’s plans for 2019. Although on a long-term contract, maybe the body (or the mind, or both?) is getting to the point where it’s better to go a year too soon than one too late. We can all think of someone else who must be thinking that.

 

Whatever may be happening behind the scenes, Boyd has been a classy player, one of those who glides across the turf. His lethal Origin left-side partnership with Greg Inglis sticks in the mind. Steady under the high ball, quick on his feet, a good eye for a hole in the opposing defence, good selection of when to chime into the backline, safe and solid at the back, and a lightening off-load (often to a rampaging Corey Oates) have been hallmarks of his game. The Broncos stand to be the biggest winner from this decision as it provides some certainty for the remainder of their season.

 

Peter Wallace has been one of those players you just have to respect regardless of which team you support. He emerged as a young tyro half-back for Penrith and won Origin selection. I always thought he was unlucky to lose his spot to Mitchell Pearce. One was a gutsy, steady fighter, a schemer playing above his weight who deserved to be in the NSW team, the other an excellent club player who lacked the last couple of percentage points to clear that final hurdle successfully. No less a judge than Wayne Bennett brought Wallace to Brisbane for several seasons where he matured even further into a consummate team player and leader.

 

Back at Penrith, Wallace transformed into an excellent No. 9, relentless, tactical, courageous. It seems that he has played for the last two seasons with injuries that should have had him under the knife and probably out of the game ages ago. He would have been a better choice for NSW at hooker than Robbie Farah following the retirement of Danny Buderus. As a Maroons supporter, I, for one, was happy to see him overlooked in that arena. He has been an inspirational club captain and one of the reasons for Penrith’s improved form this year. Stories yesterday afternoon suggest that Wallace will keep training to cover any possible injury concerns at Penrith later in the season. Typically, he’ll give whatever is required of him, forcing those aching knees to plough through a few more games if necessary.

 

Thanks for your contributions at rep level, Darius. You never let us down. Vale, Peter Wallace – well played, with great respect from this Northerner.

 

Such is his disconnect from reality that Ian Hauser has dreams in which he plays Origin for Queensland. He’s much better at playing with words. You can check out his editing services here.

 

About Ian Hauser

A happily retired ex-teacher with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through who looks for those beautiful moments in sport (and life) that capture the spirit rather than the law of the game. Love reading and good wine. I run my own editing service for aspiring writers. Check me out at writerightediting.com.au

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