When you look over the course of the history of Super League or maybe even the history of the sport in general, there are not many players that work harder than Jamie Peacock.
Between 1998-16, the former forward established himself as a true warrior of the game so we have decided to pay tribute to a rugby league legend with another addition to the in depth series.
Born in Leeds, Peacock’s journey to rugby league elite started out with Stanningley ARLFC after becoming a product of Bradford Bulls’ junior programme.
At the age of 21, Peacock made his professional debut for Bradford during the course of the 1999 Super League season, featuring mainly off the bench. However, his ability to make an impact became evident he scored tries in 18 games in the club’s run to the Grand Final. Although he would not feature in his side’s loss to St Helens that year, he certainly did more than enough to earn a more prominent role.
After a more than impressive debut season, Peacock was able to cement himself as established starter in the Bradford squad the following season and went on to make 30 appearances alongside scoring eight tries. The 2000 season also saw him get his first taste of silverware after seeing off rivals Leeds in the final of the Challenge Cup.
Over the next four seasons, Peacock was continuously seen as one of the key aspects to the West Yorkshire club’s tremendous amount of success. As he continued to develop a reputation as one of the most fearsome forwards in rugby league, he earned his first cap for England during the 2000 World Cup before clinching the first of nine Super League titles in 2001 after a comprehensive win over Wigan.
The 2003 season probably saw him at his absolute best as an exceptionally talented Bradford side went on to claim the treble in a spectacular season. In a standout year for the forward, his huge work ethic and intensity shone through as he earned the coveted Man of Steel Award.
By now, he was easily considered one of the best forwards in the world and although he missed out on another Super League crown in 2004, both himself and Bradford came back to win in 2005 with a win over Leeds and thus secured their third title in five seasons.
The 2005 season would be his last season in a Bulls shirt, and had already seemingly done it all with three Super League titles, two Challenge Cups, two World Club Challenges and a Man of Steel award already to his name. Between 1999-05, he made more than 200 appearances as well as scoring 43 tries.
Now, you would think that after achieving so much success already there was no way he could build on this, but it would only be an intermission to a legacy that Peacock was starting to carve out as he made the switch over to hometown club Leeds in time for the 2006 season.
From there, he went on to achieve even more unbridled success as he claimed three consecutive Super League crowns between 2007-09 as Leeds were starting become the new powerhouse in UK rugby league with a whole host of talent throughout that included the leadership and work rate of Peacock alongside the likes of Kevin Sinfield, Danny McGuire and Keith Senior. There was only more accolades and honours to follow as he went on to feature consistently in the Leeds side that won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012, with the latter being their sixth Grand Final appearance in seven seasons.
There would even be more Challenge Cup glory as well as Leeds broke their tournament drought in 2014 with their first title win since 1999, with Peacock again a constant threat throughout the competition.
His last season with Leeds came in 2015 with his career coming full circle as the Rhinos capped off one of the most dominant runs in the game’s history by clinching the treble – 12 years after Peacock first won it with Bradford.
Although he was never a frequent try scorer during his time with Leeds, there were plenty of other factors that made him in to the success and standout performer he was. There was the leadership and competitive mentality that always stood out above the rest. In 11 years with the blue and amber, he claimed six league titles, two Challenge Cups and had made more than 280 appearances alongside crossing the try-line on 26 occasions.
Again, he was a permanent mainstay for both Great Britain and England and was even involved in one of the most notable moments in GB and Australia’s rivalry. In the 2006 Tri-Nations, the Lions faced Australia in Sydney with what followed remains something that is still spoken of in rugby league circles today. An intense match-up boiled over when Australia’s Willie Mason punched Great Britain’s Stuart Fielden and in the heat of battle Peacock came to the aide of his fellow forward by coming to blows with Mason in an all-out brawl between the pair. It showed exactly what kind of a leader and warrior he was by standing up for his team.
By the end of his career in 2016, Peacock had put forth the most remarkable of careers in recent memory as he became one of the most decorated players in the sport’s history. In the first 20 years of Super League, he was on a title winning side on nine sensational occasions and made just shy of 500 domestic appearances.
The game has seen its fair share of fearless and influential leaders on and off the pitch, but it would not be far off to suggest that there is not many like Peacock. In 17 years, there is no question that he can wildly considered one of best forwards in Super League with his leadership and hard-working mindset everything a coach could want – a player who embodied the title Man of Steel. In a game where players showcase a huge strength of character, determination and fearlessness, there was the man himself who etched his way in to rugby league history as one of the most dominant performers the sport had seen.
Accolades and accomplishments
Super League x 9 – 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015
Challenge Cup x 4 – 2000, 2003, 2014, 2015
World Club Challenge x 4 – 2002, 2004, 2008, 2012
Man of Steel Award – 2003
MBE – 2012