BATTERED Super League opponents can rest easy – Jamie Peacock is not going to play on into 2016 even though he did wonder.
Having seen the venerable Leeds Rhinos prop make the Dream Team for an incredible record-extending tenth time this week, querying whether he still intends to retire at the end of next season is an obvious question.
Granted, Peacock will be 37 in December but the ex-England captain remains one of the most formidable players in the competition.
Indeed, it would be no surprise if, ahead of the Grand Final, he went on to claim the Man of Steel as Super League’s outright most influential player, too.
So, has he contemplated reversing that decision to retire at the end of 2015?
“I have thought about it,” he told The Yorkshire Post, ahead of this evening’s elimination play-off with Catalan Dragons.
“But the level of dedication I’d need to maintain this standard at my age is all-consuming.
“Sometimes I want to live. This (rugby league) is an obsessive lifestyle that you must live.
“And I want to live a less obsessive lifestyle! So it’s a no.”
Peacock’s performances last year were outstanding, his earlier decision to quit international football clearly having a positive impact on his club form.
He came close to beating Huddersfield Giants’ Danny Brough for the Man of Steel, then, but the most remarkable aspect of his story is that he has gone on and replicated that stellar form yet again, even improving it, despite the bones creaking a little more.
“I thought there was certain areas I wanted to be better in and I have been,” he added.
“I knew what the blueprint was for me to play well and I’ve just followed that again.
“But I also wanted to give away fewer penalties and make fewer errors this year.
“I probably gave a little too many last year. I’ve achieved that and increased my passing game even more, too.
“I think once you’ve played as many games as I have you’ve got a really good understanding of it, what’s required and what you need to do.
“I use that experience to the maximum.”
Peacock will need to do that again this evening if he intends on adding to his record haul of eight Grand Final wins.
Leeds, unusually, have lost five successive league games to finish sixth, their lowest position since 1996, and now face a sudden-death game with seventh-placed Catalan at Headingley.
Of course, it is well -documented their French opponents have never won there but they did get so close to ending their dismal record in June before losing 32-31 with the last kick of the game.
“You saw how they played then – they were 10 seconds away from beating us – and they’ve improved since, too, so we know it will be an incredibly tough game against a side that’s improved throughout the year,” insisted Peacock, who thrives on the prospect of facing a physical Catalan pack that has laid the platform for three successive wins.
“I like it when you’re playing against a team and you know you’re going to get hurt and you have to push yourself through that pain barrier.
“All the teams in the eight are those sorts of teams. Catalan are no exception.”
There is not much Peacock, who won three Super League titles with Bradford Bulls before aligning with Leeds’s golden generation in 2006, has not seen in the sport.
However, a five-match losing run is something he is certainly unfamiliar with.
“We’ve had four with Leeds and three is probably my record at Bradford,” he says.
“But you take the positive out of every situation.
“The thing is, as we’ve had the Challenge Cup final win and that’s been such a high in between, it’s not felt like five defeats.
“It’s just felt like three at the end after what we did at Wembley.”
In contrast, three successive wins, however, and this Leeds team will be at Old Trafford once more competing for an incredible sixth title in just eight years.
Catalan have myriad threats, not least the exceptional full-back Morgan Escare and dynamic second-row Elliott Whitehead.
But it would be folly to suggest this fabled Leeds side is finished especially while Jamie Peacock is still so full of vim and vigour.