Fired-up captain Jamie Peacock insists England can overcome the “Lockyer factor” at a packed Elland Road.
The Gillette Four Nations Final is the last game of Australia skipper and all-time great Darren Lockyer’s playing career and his team-mates are determined to send him out as a winner.
Former Australia Test captain Danny Buderus and ex-England coach John Kear have both predicted that the emotion surrounding Lockyer’s farewell will make the Kangaroos even tougher to beat.
But Peacock believes England have got enough incentives of their own as they chase a place in sporting history.
“That’s down to them,” Peacock said of the effect Lockyer’s exit could have on the Aussie team. It’s nothing to do with us. We’ve got our own motivation for winning. I am sure they will be highly motivated and he will as well, but we can’t do anything about that.
“We can only control what we can control. They are a dangerous team anyway, they have got some very good players and we will have to play well to win it.
“We are underdogs going into this game, but we are looking forward to it.”
Peacock played in the 2004 and 2009 final defeats by the Kangaroos, but is adamant the result tonight – in front of a sell-out crowd – can be different.
“We’re definitely in a better shape than we were in ’04 and probably the same as we were in ’09,” said the Leeds Rhinos front-rower.
“We have improved each week and there’s still room for improvement as well. There’s things we’ve worked on this week and we’ll need to be better if we want to beat Australia.
“Last week against New Zealand was good preparation and we now want to take a step up again.”
England/Great Britain haven’t won a series involving Australia since the 1972 World Cup, five years before Peacock was born.
Peacock, pictured, admitted that an England win today would be “a massive lift, a huge boost for the game over here,” but he stressed: “We aren’t looking at that.
“We are just looking at it as a game that we want to go out and play well in and try and win, then the aftershocks and repercussions if we do will hopefully be good for rugby league.”
Today’s game marks the end of the 2011 professional season and Peacock described it as “a good end to the year”.
“The way the season is, it’s all about what you do at the back end of the year,” he added.
“You need to be winning games in February, but it’s how you are playing at the end that really counts.”
A third of England’s squad named for this evening played in Rhinos’ Grand Final win over Saints last month and that could give the home nation an advantage, according to Peacock.
“It brings confidence, because we’ve been winning games,” he said. “Playing for England is a great honour every time you do it.
“We are feeling good at the moment, but we know how good the opposition are.
“Australia have scored more points than us and they beat us two weeks ago. We weren’t far off last time, but that was a different game.
“There was the outside factor of playing at Wembley and that probably affected both teams a little bit. This is a final, so it’s different.”