A sideline seat at State of Origin I and a judiciary reprieve for the second clash will make Jarrod Wallace as hungry as ever for Queensland success next Wednesday night.
Wallace wiped away tears of joy as he heard the two most vital words of his six-season NRL career on Tuesday night: A “not guilty” verdict for an alleged shoulder charge on the Warriors’ Blake Ayshford.
The charge had the potential to rub Wallace out of his anticipated Origin debut against NSW in Game II, but the 25-year-old is instead free to play alongside fellow Maroons debutants Valentine Holmes, Tim Glasby and Coen Hess.
“I just can’t wait to experience it,” Wallace said.
“It’s every boy’s dream to play Origin and I couldn’t remember how long it’s been since I wanted to play Origin.”
The Gold Coast prop was 18th man for the Maroons in the 28-4 humbling at the hands of NSW at Suncorp Stadium last month.
However he could now step up as a potential starting lock for the Maroons, depending on how coach Kevin Walters organises his final starting side.
“I got the taste of sitting there and watching it,” he said.
“I’ve said since that day I want the jersey so bad. So to finally get the opportunity next week – I’m pumped and can’t wait.”
It’s understood the Maroons had Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman on standby if Wallace was found guilty at the panel.
However along with defence lawyer Steven Johnson, he successfully argued he had done all he could to avoid the hit on Ayshford in the 40th minute of the Titans’ 34-12 loss on Saturday.
“It was a glancing blow caused by the change of direction of Blake,” Johnson said.
“Jarrod did all he could to minimise the impact … he could not get out of the way – he could not become invisible.”
In turn, Wallace became the fourth player to beat a shoulder charge wrap at the judiciary in five attempts this year, following a 25-minute deliberation by the three-man panel of Bob Lindner, Mal Cochrane and Sean Garlick.
Matt Scott, Sam Burgess and Ryan James were also successful, with most players having argued that they had naturally braced when impact happened.
North Queensland’s Jason Taumalolo is the only player to have failed.
It comes after the NRL changed their guidelines to simplify the rule over the off-season. Six players have also pleaded guilty to the offence, meaning 63 per cent of players charged have been suspended.