‘I remember singing the anthem and I was about to cry. I was so emotional.’
XXXX Maroons prop Jarrod Wallace is expecting a greater workload in Game III of this year's Holden State of Origin Series, saying an unexpected injury to centre Will Chambers during Game II took away any chance he had of extra minutes towards the end of the hard-fought contest.
Chambers left the field in the 71st minute with concussion, prompting Queensland coach Kevin Walters to rush utility Michael Morgan back on the field with the versatile utility slotting seamlessly into the centres.
It was an unplanned change that left Wallace stranded on the Maroons' bench and his numbers reflected that.
Wallace only managed one stint, staying on the field for just 22 minutes during his Origin debut.
The Gold Coast Titan ran for a total of 22m off two carries, a disappointing return for someone with such high standards. However, the 25-year-old was gallant in defence, making 15 tackles in a fiery opening to the match.
To put Wallace's performance in perspective, the former Brisbane Bronco averages a whopping 60 minutes a match and 146 run metres a match for the Titans.
These are the sort of numbers that earned Wallace his selection in the Queensland side and he hopes he will have the opportunity to put in the hard yards in Wednesday night's Origin decider.
"I don't think that was always the plan (for me to play limited minutes). It just kind of happened that way," Wallace said.
"Kevvie said I was meant to go on again but when Chambers got knocked out and 'Morgo' had to go back on it all kind of changed.
"That's footy unfortunately. It could have happened to any of us. At the end of the day we won the game and that's all that matters.
"I'm expecting and hoping for a bigger role in Game III if everything goes to plan.
"You don’t always get the minutes that you want. It can't always be like the Titans where I'm playing 65 minutes."
Wallace has had a breakout year at the Titans since arriving from the Broncos, with the Runaway Bay junior elevated to starting prop after a terrific pre-season at his new club.
It didn't take long for Queensland officials to take notice, and after a horrible result for the Maroons in Game I they knew they had to find a spot for the Titans enforcer.
On the verge of his second appearance for his state Wallace took time to reflect on his debut, describing the emotions he felt when he saw his family smiling at him from the packed ANZ Stadium crowd.
"It's hard to describe. It still hadn't even hit me when I was walking down the tunnel," he said.
"It wasn't until I was singing the national anthem that it really hit me that I was about to play State of Origin.
"I remember singing the anthem and I was about to cry. I was so emotional.
"I remember looking up to the crowd and seeing my mum and dad, as well as my two little girls and it was just an unreal feeling.
"It was such a proud moment for my family and myself. They've been able to enjoy the ride with me."