Peacock focused on process rather than the one prize still to elude him

0
Have your say

England captain Jamie Peacock refuses to contemplate what leading his country to a first major triumph in 39 years would ultimately feel like.

It is not because the totemic prop does not hope to bring Australia to their knees this evening and clinch the Gillette Four Nations title. Far from it.

International silverware is the one thing still missing from the veteran Leeds Rhinos forward’s distinguished CV, something which clearly needs to be resolved

Certainly, there would be no prouder man to end the irritating sequence than the fiercely patriotic front-row.

But Peacock – who turns 34 next month – accepts eyeing the prize could cloud his side’s judgment.

“I’m not thinking about it,” he told the Yorkshire Post after yesterday’s final training session before the Elland Road decider.

“Honestly, all I’m just thinking about now is the performance (tonight).

“The after-shocks and repercussions if we do win will all deal with themselves.

“We’re playing Australia and we have to focus on that. That’s what we’ve done building up to this final and now we just all want to go out there and deliver a performance.”

The last touches to their plans were completed yesterday when England unexpectedly performed their traditional captain’s run at Peacock’s home ground of Headingley Carnegie.

Leeds United’s groundsman had banned both sides from having a run-out on the Elland Road turf, something which slightly irked Australia coach Tim Sheens.

He commented that they had been afforded that chance at Wembley a fortnight ago and was somewhat bemused that a Championship football club could not allow the same.

But Peacock insisted: “We weren’t bothered about it.

“That’s just the way it is. Most of us have played there before and you just get on with it.

“There’s no point whingeing about something you cannot control.

“We’ve had another good session and everything’s gone well. Now it’s time to get out there.”

The 36-20 defeat against Australia at Wembley offered enough encouragement that if England raise their display another couple of notches they can force an upset few people previously expected.

Given they pushed their opponents so close while Peacock was hampered by a knee injury for the majority of the 80 minutes and with fellow forwards James Graham and Gareth Ellis sidelined for the second half, there is plenty of reason for optimism now they are back to a full complement.

“I think we will create opportunities,” said Peacock, ahead of his 47th international cap. “We’re strong enough and know we can make chances. That’s not a problem.

“It’s just a matter of being clinical and taking them all. We need to be clinical and smart.

“We have to play a lot better than last time and need to improve greatly to beat Australia.

“But the focus is on that – delivering a big performance to give ourselves that chance to win.”

Having recovered from the knee reconstruction – which saw him miss last year’s uninspiring Four Nations – to help fire Leeds’s push to Grand Final success, there were fears Peacock had suffered a relapse with the injury endured in London.

However, he ignored the pain to stride through the impressive New Zealand win last week and insists there is “definitely one more game left in it” in readiness for the challenge of a Kangaroo pack containing the grizzly Paul Gallen and toughened Matt Scott.

“The knee’s been knocked about a bit and there was quite a bit of fluid on there,” he said.

“But that’s settled down now and structurally it’s fine.

“I’m looking forward to this game. It’s an exciting time to be playing in games like this.”

The former Bradford Bulls captain added that news that Elland Road will be full to capacity has further heightened expectation among the camp.

“That’s a huge factor,” added Peacock. “It’s been exciting for the players to know during the week that the game is sold out.

“We realise there’s going to be a massive crowd with those fans making it as noisy as possible.

“To walk out there in that atmosphere will be great.”

Along with Adrian Morley, Peacock is the only survivor from the Great Britain side that lost the 2004 Tri-Nations final 44-4 against Australia on the same ground.

Britain were slight favourites that day having topped the group, beating the Kangaroos in Wigan and New Zealand twice, only to be terrorised by Darren Lockyer.

It is a warning sign of what could come this evening if England are marginally off the pace but Peacock maintained: “I don’t think you can draw much from that match.

“But if you look at the 2009 final we played well against the Aussies for 60 minutes before they ran away with it in the final quarter.

“The obvious lesson learned was that we need to play for the full 80 minutes to match them.”

He added: “It was important that we reached this final.

“We were third favourites before the tournament started, so you can say we have overachieved.

“But, from my point of view, if you host a tournament you need to make the final and it’s good for rugby league we’ve done that.

“We are huge underdogs and are under no illusions about the task ahead of us.

“New Zealand have proved in the last few years that Australia are beatable in finals.

“But we are not New Zealand and we have to find a way to beat the Kangaroos. We certainly have the belief we can achieve it.”

dave.craven@ypn.co.uk

Back to the top of the page