Mt Al­bert’s Wal­lace wins MVP

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - TORIKA TOKALAU-CHAN­DRA

What he lacks in makes up for in tal­ent.

Zae Wal­lace, 17, has made his way into the Mt Al­bert Lions premier rugby league team, the youngest player in the club this sea­son.

Wal­lace is most likely the small­est half­back you will see in the Fox Premier Rugby League Com­pe­ti­tion.

Stand­ing at 163cm and 64kg, the Year 13 West­lake Boys High School stu­dent con­tin­ues to im­press Mt Al­bert coach Wil­lie Swan with his will­ing­ness to learn and hunger to im­prove. size, he

Swan speaks very highly of Wal­lace - a player with great vi­sion and in­stinct.

Since his de­but in round two, Wal­lace has played 13 games for the club, scor­ing three tries and kick­ing a goal.

‘‘I’m not the big­gest half­back in the com­pe­ti­tion but I don’t think that size mat­ters at all,’’ Wal­lace says.

‘‘It’s about the heart and courage to de­ter­mine what you are as a player and I feel that I have the courage to play in the big leagues.’’

Strong words for a per­son who didn’t like, let alone, play rugby league at all un­til three years ago.

Un­til 2013 Wal­lace was a rugby player. It was in a game he played for North­cote Tigers against an Aus­tralian club that he fell in love with the sport.

‘‘Funny enough I was play­ing against Mt Al­bert when I was with North­cote in my first year. Their coach then, Daniel Hall said he liked the way I played and asked me if I wanted to play for him the fol­low­ing year.’’

He was awarded the Un­der 17 MVP award in his first year at Mt Al­bert Lions. Wal­lace con­tin­ues to be recog­nised for his tal­ent, pick­ing up the 2016 SAS Col­lege Rugby League MVP and half­back of the year in the 1st XIII team. He has also been named in the NZ Un­der 18.

‘‘My mum Rose has had the big­gest im­pact on my sport, tak­ing me to train­ings and games. My dad too and my brother Vann from play­ing all those games in the back­yard.

‘‘When I get strapped up be­fore a game I al­ways write my mum and my girl­friend’s name on my wrist, and also write Val­ley Boys which stands for all my close boys from Beach Haven.

‘‘They are my clos­est friends and they come to all my games. They are very im­por­tant to me and I need them with me on the field.’’

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Zae Wal­lace, with SAS manag­ing direc­tor Tim Con­nolly, is now fo­cused on play­ing club footy with the Mt Al­bert Lions.

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