Jarrod Wallace knows he has to lift for Origin II. Picture: Annette Dew
Jarrod Wallace knows he has to lift for Origin II. Picture: Annette Dew

Engine troubles force Wallace to fire up

JARROD Wallace is primed to deliver the game of his life in Origin II as pressure mounts on the recalled Maroons prop to prove himself in the code's toughest arena.

Axed for Origin I, the Titans prop is back in the Maroon fold following the loss of his good mate Jai Arrow (ankle) in an engine-room reshuffle that gives Wallace a shot at redemption in Game Two at Perth's Optus Stadium.

The jury is out on Wallace at Origin level with the Blues having previously muzzled him in midfield.

In five games since his Queensland debut in 2017, the Titans front-rower has never managed 100 metres or more in an Origin game.

In three of his five games, Wallace amassed 21 metres, 43m and 44m as a starting prop, numbers which simply cannot win Origin matches in an arena where monster midfield metres is a decisive factor.

But Wallace's barnstorming display against the Warriors last week, charging for 164 metres from 21 hit-ups, is evidence he can impose himself in the middle-third.

With starting prop Dylan Napa set to carry a broken wrist into Origin II, Queensland coach Kevin Walters needs interchange thrust from Wallace and the 27-year-old has vowed to deliver it.

Wallace has been in strong form for the Titans. Picture: Dave Hunt
Wallace has been in strong form for the Titans. Picture: Dave Hunt

"I will be looking to have my best game," Wallace declared.

"I will make sure I'm putting in and adding to what the boys did in Game One.

"I just want to make sure I come on and tighten the defensive rucks, get some strong carries and get some momentum.

"Hopefully I get some early touches and I'll just run hard."

Wallace has been a target of unfair criticism this season. When he was selected for Game Two, speculation south of the border suggested the Blues were privately happy because they didn't believe Wallace could dominate them in the Origin arena.

But Wallace's club performances this year have been exceptional. He has amassed 1839 metres at an average of 153m per game, data which suggests he is in the best form of his NRL career.

Jarrod Wallace has five State of Origins to his name. Picture: AAP Image
Jarrod Wallace has five State of Origins to his name. Picture: AAP Image

Now he must transfer his Titans displays to the Queensland team and Walters insists he has not lost faith in Wallace despite overlooking him for the series opener.

"Jarrod forced his way into the side through form more than anything else," he said.

"He brings experience and the coaching staff and the players around him have a lot of trust in what he brings through that middle part of the field.

"It is going to be a big job for him, a really important job for Jarrod, but one that he is more than capable of handling."

Wallace admits he feared being omitted again for Game Two at the expense of Christian Welch, who was ultimately named 18th man.

"It was very nerve-racking," he said.

"I got it (the phone call) pretty late from Kevvie.

"I won't lie, I had some thoughts in my head that it won't happen, but when Kevvie's name came up on my phone and he told me I was back in, I was over the moon."