JAMIE PEACOCK is too long in the tooth and can place so many Grand Final winners’ rings on his fingers to realise anything gets decided this early in the Super League season.
That is why the Leeds Rhinos veteran is largely indifferent to the fact his side have surprisingly been handed an immediate chance to reclaim top spot tomorrow.
They looked to have lost the upper hand in the battle for the League Leaders’ Shield after last week’s defeat against Castleford Tigers saw St Helens knock them out of pole position.
However, Castleford doubled up by stunning Saints, too, with an epic 25-24 win on Thursday night, meaning Rhinos will take control once more if they avoid defeat to Hull FC at Headingley.
With just four rounds then remaining until the competition splits for the Super 8s, Leeds’ destiny as they seek the shield for the first time since 2009 will, once more, be in their own hands.
However, after securing just two league wins in seven outings, Peacock told The Yorkshire Post: “We aren’t concerning ourselves with whatever anyone else is doing.
“It was great for Cas the other night. They fully deserved the win, they have improved, are playing very well at the moment and it’s great to see for Yorkshire rugby.
“But we have to sort our own house out. When you start thinking about who beats who it’s no good.
“We have to get our form right. I’ll be honest, in the key areas against Cas we were on top apart from the actual scoreboard.
“In rugby league, if you finish in front with some KPIs (key performance indicators) then you generally win and we were in front in a lot.
“That shows we’re heading the right way and means there is no panic from us.
“We just have to keep improving, working hard and have the faith that we will get back to what we were doing earlier in the season.
“We know we’re not a million miles away and we’ll look to get there against Hull on Sunday.”
Their opponents, whom Leeds visit on Friday in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, are in good form with Peacock’s former Bradford Bulls colleague Lee Radford having transformed the Black and Whites’ year.
He was under immense pressure at the start of this season when, having won impressively 19-0 at Huddersfield on the opening day, they then lost their next four consecutive matches.
Most spectacularly in that run, they squandered a 12-0 interval lead against the Rhinos to be annihilated 43-12 at the KC Stadium but, generally, their defeats were close-run things.
Easter Monday proved a turning point when victory at St Helens signalled a run that has seen them lose just three times in 11 contests.
“Lee Radford needs plenty of credit for what he’s done there,” said Peacock, although Hull are currently still precariously hanging on to the final play-off berth of eighth.
“He’s a young coach coming through who has stuck to what he thought would work.
“He didn’t get results at first but they are certainly getting them now.
“Hull’s senior players are all playing particularly well especially in the forwards while the half-backs are doing a great job, too.
“We know we will have to play very, very well to get the result we want on Sunday.”
Hull lost 20-14 at Catalans Dragons a week ago but Peacock, 37, argued: “Hull will probably feel the same as us against Cas –- that they performed well but didn’t come out with the result you’d imagine.
“Sometimes that can happen. Their confidence won’t be wavering and Hull will be like most teams who come to Headingley - wanting to enjoy the experience and get a win – so it’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Peacock, of course, will join Hull’s city rivals Hull KR at the end of the season as football manager,
But the former Great Britain captain said: “It’s still a bit too far out to be thinking about my last game coming up.
“Once we get into the Super 8s things might be different. I think then I’ll be thinking this is the last couple of miles on the marathon and those games will certainly have added meaning for me but I’m not at that point yet.”