Dave Craven: Coming to terms with the departure of two of the game’s greats

LEGENDS: Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield.
LEGENDS: Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield.
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EVERYBODY wants to ask Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock if it has dawned on them both yet that this is their final season of rugby league action.

It is understandable I suppose. They each announced some time ago that 2015 would be their last act and the end of that campaign is now fast approaching.

There is no way of stopping time. My growing bald spot would love some of that action if there was, although I’m sure such a skill could be put to a more worthwhile cause.

Anyway, as their last game does draw ever closer – and what’s the likelihood of the Leeds Rhinos duo signing off in suitable style at Old Trafford in October – it is perhaps more pertinent to query whether those posing the questions have accepted the realisation, too?

That’s because, when you spend a little time to think about it, the sport – not just Leeds where the pair have given a combined service of almost 30 years – is going to lose two of its true modern-day heroes at the very same time.

That doesn’t happen very often. Most seasons a notable name in the game may hang up his boots, but it is rare to see two such genuine world-class stars, with such similarly correlating golden careers, bow out at once. End of an era doesn’t do it justice.

It only really rammed home to me earlier this week when taking part in a specially-convened select media gathering to interview the pair ahead of next week’s Challenge Cup final – and away from the masses of Monday’s impending bun-fight of a press conference ahead of the game.

That in itself says plenty about the impact of Peacock and Sinfield; knowing how in demand they will be ahead of the holders’ defence against Hull KR, it was seen fitting by the club’s media manager to take them away from that all-consuming rigmarole, but clearly in the knowledge that journalists would more than happily take time out to sit down with two such great interviewees.

During those interviews, as Sinfield and Peacock discuss all manner of things that have happened in their illustrious careers, it is yet another reminder of how much they have achieved.

There will be reams of words rightly written and spoken about them next week in the build-up to the Challenge Cup final and again ahead of their final games whereverand whenever they will be in the next nine weeks or so.

And what price Peacock, the former Great Britain captain and Man of Steel, taking the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match for the first time?

If that does not occur, or Leeds don’t win, or even if they don’t complete any part of the ‘treble’ they are currently chasing, it will not really matter.

Knowing there are two more sporting legends to be inducted into the game’s ultimate pantheon – the Rugby League Hall of Fame – later this year as part of the sport’s 120-year celebrations, it would be no surprise if these legends were to join the likes of Eric Ashton, Billy Boston, Neil Fox Ellery Hanley, Alex Murphy and Malcolm Reilly.

That, however, won’t happen as selection criteria for the elite group, which has 23 members, states a player must be retired for 10 years before induction.

However, other requirements are a record of outstanding achievement at the highest level of the game – players who have made a lasting contribution to the sport and, also, are deemed to have a reputation that transcends the era in which they played.

They each tick all those boxes. So, come 2025 …