Peacock is ready to issue forceful reminder

Jamie Peacock
Jamie Peacock
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Relaxed Jamie Peacock insists Garry Schofield will be far from his thoughts when he leads England out against the Exiles tomorrow night.

The current national captain and former Great Britain leader were locked in a very public spat on Twitter last weekend.

It all got a bit out of hand as it became abundantly clear Peacock, 35, had little respect for the ex-Leeds star who had criticised him for “playing like a 40-year-old.”

The veteran front-row took offence to Schofield’s views of him but perhaps more so of his Leeds colleagues as the stuttering champions continue to struggle in Super League.

However, he revealed he has since spoken to Schofield and agreed to disagree, Peacock insisting he has no reason to justify his selection to the pundit.

“I’m not under any pressure to prove anyone wrong,” said the prop.

“The only things that count to me are my standards and respect from my team-mates and coaches and they’ve been happy with the standards I’ve set this season.”

On the quarrel with Schofield, he added: “My opinion is that I’ve been brought up with a certain kind of values.

“One of them is not to lie and the second is if someone offers an opinion about me I’m allowed to answer and give them opinion back.

“That’s just what’s happened this weekend. Garry knows how I feel about him and that’s finished with as far as I’m concerned.

“There’s far more important things going on in the world so I’m over it.

“I spoke to him on the phone but we’ll leave what was said private.”

Although faltering Leeds remain rooted in ninth spot as they defend their title, England coach Steve McNamara has selected all six of their players in his squad for the Exiles game at St Helens.

It has prompted plenty of debate but Peacock insists he has no worries about his own form or that of his Headingley colleagues as they now take to the international stage.

“We’re all proven at this level,” he said, something which is certainly true of Kevin Sinfield, Ryan Hall, Rob Burrow and Jamie Jones-Buchanan but not debutant Carl Ablett.

“And I think we’ve probably not been playing as badly as some people make out.

“When you’re a senior player in a team not doing well you know what you need to do individually to turn things around.

“I think it’s just a question of us focusing on that.”

Regardless, with fellow esteemed stalwart Adrian Morley left out of McNamara’s squad, Peacock knows he will need a typically forceful display to remind people of what he can do.

He has been in this position before. Critics claimed that ‘Father Time’ had caught up with him ahead of the World Club Challenge in February.

However, a gargantuan performance in victory against Manly Sea Eagles only served to remind those doubters of what Peacock can muster.

He may not have repeated that sort of rousing performance since but Langtree Park would be the perfect occasion to do so.

Leeds’s problems aside, Peacock’s immediate focus is the Exiles and he concedes last season’s dramatic late loss still weighs heavy. “I don’t think it’s revenge but I remember how disappointed the dressing room was afterwards,” he recalled.

“It was one of the most disappointing dressing rooms I’ve ever been in and we want to put that right. It’s time for us to do that.”

Somebody who will have a point to prove is Gareth Hock, playing his first international game since returning from a two-year drugs ban.

Peacock famously lined up with the Wigan star during Great Britain’s memorable 2006 win against Australia in Sydney and he concedes the fearsome second-row has the ability to rattle the finest opponents.

“It’s great for Gaz and a good story,” he said.

“People make mistakes don’t they? But this is a good example of how people perhaps should be given a second chance in life.

“That’s happened with Gaz and I don’t think anyone would disagree if I said he’s head and shoulders the best forward in the country at the moment.

“That’s a good thing for England as people don’t like playing against him. I know the Exiles won’t.”

Peacock – two games short of 450 career performances – believes there is a greater cohesiveness to England 12 months after the inaugural Exiles fixture.

“The team felt very new when we went into that match,” he added. “But we’re just a little more settled in what we’re doing now and the younger players, too, are settled in to the systems used.

“We’ve lost James Graham and Joel Tomkins since then but maybe we are stronger.

“What you’ve got to look at is some of the other players – Sam Tomkins and Ryan Hall – are a year further on in their development. We knew they were good going into the Four Nations but they came out as world class players. It’s affirmed they can play and shine at that level and Jamie Jones-Buchanan, too.”

Jones-Buchanan, Peacock and the rest of the Leeds contingent will face Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Monday, eager to kick-start their ailing domestic season.

By then, they will all have hoped to have reminded people of their international class as well.