One of rugby league's toughest players, Panthers rake Peter Wallace, has laughed off an embarrassing but potentially serious off-season injury picked up on a fishing trip.
The 31-year-old former halfback, who gained a new lease on life after shifting to dummy half in 2016, has endured some eye-watering injuries; he playing on after rupturing an ACL in 2014 and had his season ended by an identical injury in 2015 and famously played on after rupturing a testicle in a 2008 Origin match.
So it's a little ironic that after completing his breakout 2016 in full health, it should be something as innocuous as a fishing trip that should threaten Wallace's fitness.
But speaking to journalists after completing his first skills session of the off-season out at a baking hot Penrith Academy – with his left hand still lightly bandaged but otherwise showing no ill-effects – Wallace could afford a smile about slipping on some rocks up on Stradbroke Island and landing on some oyster shells, slicing the tendons in his middle and ring fingers.
"I caught a few fish but it didn't end too well," Wallace laughed.
"It was more embarrassing than anything, to get through the season unscathed then go away on holidays and hurt yourself.
"I did skills today so I'll take it gradually, get into contact in the next few weeks and then it'll be fine by Christmas."
Wallace said the injury didn't prevent him passing the ball in a skills session and he would up his involvement to a full workload before Christmas, adding it was good to get the Steeden back in his hands.
One other challenge facing Wallace is the recruitment of Dragons hooker Mitch Rein. Wallace welcomed the appointment as adding depth to the one position the club didn’t already have an embarrassment of riches.
"He's a quality player. I'm not sure what's going to happen there but he's definitely a great pickup for us, he adds a lot of depth to our squad which I think is all over the field now," Wallace said of Rein.
"It was probably one spot we were a bit light on but all over the field now we're pretty good."
While Wallace hopes to continue playing 80 minutes next season, he is prepared to do whatever is required by coach Anthony Griffin.
"That's my preference [to play 80 minutes] but whatever 'Hook' (Griffin) thinks is going to be best for the team, that's what we'll run with. I found playing 80 minutes last year I got through it pretty well. It will just come down to what Hook decides will be best for the team."
This article first appeared on NRL.com