What a difference a year has made for Blaxland born-and-raised National Rugby League player Peter Wallace.
Placed on the Brisbane Broncos' bench for most of the second half of last season, the 28-year-old finds himself at the halfway mark of this season playing the captain's role at his new club, the Penrith Panthers, which remains in equal first place on the competition table with Manly and on a five-game winning streak.
Wallace told the Gazette during the Panthers' second bye last week he was in a happy place.
"I was surprised and very happy to have been named co-captain just before the start of the season and I've really enjoyed the extra roles and responsibilities that have come with that," he said.
"Public speaking is not my greatest skill and I've had to do a lot of post match press conferences, but that's all part of it.
"And the fact we've been winning has helped, no doubt."
After the Panthers' win against the Dragons on June 14, head coach Ivan Cleary told a media scrum "one thing I knew about both of our halves [Wallace and Jamie Soward] is they're experienced and they know what to do".
"That combination - and it's almost the odd couple in many ways - it seems to work, so I've got to tip my hat off to them because they didn't really get together [in a match] until round five and didn't play any trials either.
"They're doing a really good job and they are going to be crucial for us in the second half of the year."
Wallace's organisational and tactical skills have been spot on and he has made an impressive 222 tackles in 11 games - almost as many as Panthers' "tackling machine" Nigel Plum.
"Defence is an area where we are now probably right up there with the top teams in this league," Wallace said.
"That's something we've really worked hard on and something we'll definitely need to keep up in the second half of the season if we want to keep winning games."
Asked what the secret has been to the Panthers success to date, he said: "I think we've just been more consistent and one of the major things about that is we've always tried to improve each and every game.
"While we lost a couple of games early on, we've been able to put in a good performance since then.
"We'll need to keep that up as we have a couple of tough away games coming up, including the Warriors in Auckland this Sunday.
"The crowd support at Penrith is great - I've noticed it, especially in the game against Parramatta which probably was the biggest crowd we've had at Penrith in a long while.
"Having support like that makes it a pretty special place to play."