When you lead a club to a Premiership, and then a couple of seasons later you are told you can leave that same club mid season because they simply don’t want you any more, that is not something anyone should take lightly.
Similarly, if you are a halfback for a club that has one of its worst seasons ever and you are told that you are not wanted any more, and that if you stay you will play in reserve grade for the entire season, you have reached a cross roads in your career.
Jamie Soward may not feel that he and Peter Wallace have anything to prove based on the way they left their previous clubs, but the fact is both players have a lot to prove!
Soward was signed by the Penrith Panthers after the club had missed out on its number one target, a bloke called Johnathan Thurston. To some supporters it seemed like the Panthers had won the booby prize.
I felt like Soward could be a handy buy for the Panthers if the club was able to pair him up with a high quality halves partner. Even as his relationship with the St George/Illawarra Dragons completely broke down and he ended up playing for the London Broncos in Super League I thought Soward wasn’t the worst signing the Panthers have ever made (That’s not saying much though!).
Peter Wallace was a late signing and to be honest, he looked done to me. At a time he was a very handy player. Not a super star but a player who could get the job done. His last few seasons at the Brisbane Broncos however looked terrible. Last year in particular he looked like he was part of the problem. He looked like a player who had just lost it. Someone who no longer looked like a first grade players.
That the Penrith Panthers have made the decision to invest in both players bring pressure. The way both players ended their time at their previous clubs brings pressure. If Jamie Soward can not see how the recent past puts pressure on both himself and Wallace to perform, that is a concern. It may point to why his time at the St George/Illawarra Dragons ended the way it did.
It is pretty clear that right now the Panthers will start off their 2014 campaign with the thought that Soward and Wallace are their starting halves. I would personally be surprised if they remained the first choice halves throughout this upcoming season.
By making a point that his past would not be talked about during his very first press opportunity for the Panthers, Soward piled a whole lot of pressure on himself and Wallace. How their time at the club turns out will come down to their form on the field.
Going by that recent history that Soward isn’t so keen to talk about, it could be a tough season ahead for both players.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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