Peter Wallace's spirit buoys Panthers

An injured Peter Wallace.

An injured Peter Wallace.

Peter Wallace, pictured playing on after being injured against the Sharks in Bathurst three weeks ago. Photo: Getty Images.

Peter Wallace, pictured playing on after being injured against the Sharks in Bathurst three weeks ago. Photo: Getty Images.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary called on his troops to play with the spirit of injured skipper, Blaxland native Peter Wallace, during their away-from-home clashes against Canterbury and St George-Illawarra.

And despite sustaining further injuries to half a dozen key players including Brent Kite and Elijah Taylor, the team responded in style with 22-16 and 16-4 wins to remain in third place with just four rounds remaining.

Wallace was ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the side's two-point loss to Cronulla in Bathurst three weeks ago and was replaced by youngster Will Smith.

The damage to his right knee was a bitter blow for the halfback who was playing in his first game back from an injury to his other knee.

Cleary praised Wallace for his determination after he returned to the field during that game and made several valuable contributions.

"If you're looking for one moment of what we're trying to do here at the Panthers, it was the effort of our captain," Cleary said.

"[To] not only play but set up tries and save them, [you] just can't buy things like that ... for all our guys to see that.

"Wins and losses come and go but those things stay in the water."

Against the Bulldogs they certainly did, as Panthers boss Phil Gould commented in his Sydney Morning Herald column praising Wallace's influence.

"When coach Ivan Cleary spoke of Peter's injury the players were understandably sombre," Gould wrote.

"However when they were shown how he injured himself, when he was injured and how he returned to the field and played so courageously with that injury, the mood changed completely ... inspirational.

"I know a number of young players who will never forget the courage and leadership of our captain."

The Panthers lifted further against the Dragons, leading coach Cleary to remark "it was probably the best 80-minute defensive display in terms of composure [this year].

"We knew what we had to do and whether we were fresh or we were tired, we seemed to be able to come up with a stop.''

A Panthers spokesperson told the Gazette that Wallace was booked in to have surgery yesterday (August 12).

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