Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott has compared Jamie Peacock to some of the game’s greatest ever prop forwards, claiming he is ‘one in a million’.
Peacock, now 36, has signed a new deal that will see him stay at Headingley until the end of 2015, just weeks shy of his 39th birthday.
“While it’s an interesting note because of his age that we’ve offered him a two-year deal, I don’t think there are too many people thinking we’ve made a mistake,” said McDermott.
“Physically he’s been very good these last 18 months and I’m not going to say no [to him signing another contract after this one].
“Whenever we do conditioning, JP is up there, up front. He’s come in at the same timings of the runs of the blokes who weigh 80 or 90 kilos, and he weighs 100 and whatever he weighs. And he’s 42 or whatever age he is [laughs]. It’s incredible what he’s doing.”
Peacock agrees his physicality is at its peak, and says he has international retirement to thank.
“I don’t think you get many 36-year-olds saying this but I have never been as strong or as fit as I am now,” he told League Express.
“I couldn’t have kept playing for England and carried on. I would probably have finished at the end of 2013, there’s just too many games, when you get to my kind of age especially.”
When quizzed on his plans for retirement, Peacock did not rule out becoming a coach, but he does have other ambitions.
“My plan at the moment is to make sure I am as up-skilled as possible,” he said.
“I’m going to finish my masters degree (in Sports Business Administration), and when we get to the second half of 2015 I’m going to start looking for work, pull a CV together and see where it goes from there.
“I would particularly like to get into management in sport, senior management within the administration. Or work in the media.
“I think I would enjoy coaching but I don’t think it’s something on the top of my list. I don’t want to rule it out.”
McDermott already sees Peacock as an unofficial coach within the team and says he has a huge influence both on and off the pitch.
“There is a bit of that yes, he has a good take on things,” he said.
“I never played for half as long as JP but as you get older, it’s a bit of a cliche, your mind starts to think but your body can’t keep up. In JP’s case it can, he’s physically able to do what his mind has learned.
“I haven’t thought about him coaching officially, but it wouldn’t be a no. He’s an articulate bloke and has an ability to get his point over. Sometimes in the dressing rooms he doesn’t need to be that articulate, he just tells you what to do. Every coach would like two or three people that can just give a poke and a prod and they carry those messages through far better than any coach could. He’s certainly one of those.”
In trying to pinpoint Peacock’s greatness in the game, McDermott drew parallels with Australian legends Petero Civoniceva and Steve Price.
“You’d put him up there with them if not higher,” McDermott said.
“His standing in the game, his age, the influence he has over individual games. It’s not a symbolic gesture, he’s a very important player. Then you start taking into account what he’s already won and you wonder where his drive continues to come from. He’d be on his own, one in a million.
“I don’t think we’ll get another one like him.”
Finally, McDermott looked back fondly to his playing days and watching a young Peacock come through the ranks at Bradford.
“He was equally determined back then,” he said.
“He wanted to run through brick walls but kept running through the wrong ones. It’s been a privilege to be involved with him to watch him come through and develop from a big silly lad into a big wise lad.”
What do you think? Has Peacock cemented his place among the best forwards of all time? Let us know by commenting below. If you haven’t made your mind up yet, be sure to watch the below video that Leeds Rhinos created for the 36-year-old after he was voted 2013 player of the year.