Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott has lavished praise upon two of his veteran forwards, as they reach differing landmarks in tonight’s clash against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
It promises to be a real celebration at Headingley Carnegie, as former Bradford and Great Britain captain Jamie Peacock brings up his 500th career appearance against the Wildcats – the club against whom he made his debut for the Bulls.
However, it is a double cause for celebration, as Leeds stalwart Ian Kirke makes it 200 games for the Leeds club against their West Yorkshire rivals, with McDermott insisting that Kirke is still as valuable as ever to the Rhinos.
“Kirkey is a very unsung hero and he is actually growing in presence within the squad,” McDermott told the YEP.
“A lot of that is to do with his performances on the field. He is a very safe defender, a big man, very athletic and provides us with a lot of go-forward. Those 200 games will surprise a few people, but he has won a fair few bits of silverware at this club and it would be hard to have him out of your 17.
“If you are going to pick your best 17 over the last two, three or four years and maybe the next couple of years going forward, it would be a good player that pushes Kirkey out of the team. We are really grateful he is with us. We know what problems he causes the opposition.”
McDermott also heaped praise upon Peacock, claiming: “I think what JP is going to become, if he is not already, is a benchmark for what’s possible for all those who are approaching 29 or 30 and think ‘I’ve only got another two or three years left’.
“Most people could achieve what JP has done if – and it’s a big if – they are prepared to make the sacrifices in life he has and put the time and effort in.”