LEEDS RHINOS captain Kevin Sinfield says he doesn’t expect “warrior” Jamie Peacock to retire at the end of this season.
Peacock – who will celebrate his testimonial when Rhinos face his former club Bradford Bulls at Headingley Carnegie on Sunday – has said this will be his last year.
But Sinfield believes the front-rower – who turned 37 last month – is playing as well as ever and revealed he will be “surprised” if he goes through with his plan to hang up his boots.
“If you look at the young players coming through, they are going to learn a lot off JP and Kylie (Leuluai) and Adam (Cuthbertson),” Sinfield said.
“I think Cuthbo was a really shrewd signing and he has been awesome in training. I am sure Brad Singleton will get his chance this year and Andy Yates has gone very, very well in the friendlies we’ve had.
“There’s plenty of competition there, but I will go on record and say I will be very surprised if he retires at the end of this year.
“Not that he has said anything to me, but I know the kind of condition he is in and I think it would be very difficult for him to walk away if the fire is still burning – and I am sure it is.”
Sinfield is expected to play his first game since undergoing knee surgery last year when Rhinos face Bulls in two days’ time.
The captain is determined to feature on Peacock’s big day and described the Leeds-born front-rower as Rhinos’ best Super League signing.
Sinfield said: “He has been awesome. As a signing I think he has been the biggest and best signing we’ve made, certainly during my time.
“It would be unfair of me to comment before that, but we’ve had some fantastic signings over the years, some great overseas players and from this country we’ve had people like Gareth Ellis, who was great for us. But JP has been so inspiring, just the way he turns up every day and gives his all. He is a great warrior and it has been an absolute pleasure to play alongside him.”
Peacock skippered Bradford before joining Leeds and was England captain from 2005 until Sinfield took over in 2012.
“He is very straightforward, very stern,” Sinfield said. “He tells you exactly what he thinks, which I really like. He is certainly a doer as well, he doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He is a true warrior and a great.”
Rhinos have won five Super League Grand Finals, two World Club Challenge crowns and the Challenge Cup since Peacock made his debut in 2006.
Sinfield admitted the golden decade would have been much harder to achieve without Peacock at the club. “Very much so,” said the skipper. “We started it off in 2003 and won our first title in 2004, but JP came in and helped us kick on. He is a born winner and I am not sure we’d have as many trophies in the cabinet if JP hadn’t been here.
“One, we’d have missed him I’m sure, but also he would have been a thorn in our side wherever he’d have played. He has been absolutely enormous for this club.”