Leeds rhinos prop Jamie Peacock is full of admiration for tonight’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup opponents Leigh Centurions and their coach Paul Rowley.
“Leigh are a very good side and they are undefeated this year,” Peacock said of the visitors, who are aiming for a 17th straight win.
“When I was on holiday, Paul Rowley was in the same resort.
“I got chatting to him and he said he was really looking forward to the year
“ He had been learning for a long time and he was looking forward to implementing his own ideas.
“They are working really well for him and I am really pleased for him. I know him from the World Cup in 2000 and it is great to see things working out for him.
“Particularly with the structure changes next year I think he will be pleased with how they are going and so will Leigh.
“They will have ambitions to be in Super League and they are going the right way about it.”
Peacock insisted Rhinos are approaching tonight as they would a league game, stressing: “We have got to. They are as good as the bottom Super League teams and we know they will raise their game even more playing at Headingley in the quarter-finals of the Cup.
“They will be confident and the way we performed against Warrington, we need to improve.”
Peacock described last week’s performance as “like a slap in the face” and he added: “If there was any complacency, that has gone for sure.
“People are definitely smarting after a defeat.
“We have just seen recently in the league – if we look at how St Helens responded to a loss and how Huddersfield did – good teams respond to a loss in the right way and we are going to do that.
“There’s a lot at stake anyway. If you win it you are 80 minutes away from Wembley and if you win that one you are 80 minutes away from lifting the Challenge Cup.
“We know what comes with that and we are just looking forward to playing, I think.
“The boys would have played on Monday if they had chance. When you have lost, the weekend can’t come soon enough.
“You want to put things right and if you’ve played poorly you want to get out there straight away and change things.”
The ex-England captain had no excuses for the defeat a week ago, which was Rhinos’ third and heaviest of the campaign.
“Not enough players played well,” he conceded.
“We went away from what’s been working well for us and once you do those kind of things a team like Warrington will punish you – and they did. They were deserved winners and we need to be better in a lot of areas.”
Peacock is the only member of the current Rhinos squad to have played in a winning Challenge Cup final, as a member of the Bradford Bulls side which beat Leeds in 2000 and 2003. Rhinos last lifted the trophy in 1999.
Since then they have appeared in six finals and lost them all. In the same period they have played in seven Super League Grand Finals, winning six.
“This group of players has been very successful in the league and won Grand Finals and league leaders’ shields,” Peacock said. “And we’ve got to Cup finals, but it is just a matter of getting one step further.
“But we can’t look further than Leigh at the moment. We have got to concentrate on them first.”
Peacock doesn’t see any deep, psychological reasons behind Leeds’ inability to win the Cup.
He added: “We’ve just been beaten by the better teams on the day, unfortunately.
“It is up to us to get to the Challenge Cup final and put in a better performance.”
On a personal note, time is running out for Peacock who will retire at the end of next season – despite playing as well as ever this year.
“I am just trying to play as well as I can,” he stated. “When you get to my age, for me I am not limiting my performances by other people’s expectations or limitations of what someone who’s 36 can do.
“I think a lot of people have got preconceived ideas that props can’t do 80 minutes and 36 year olds should not be able to contribute towards games. I am not having that. I am only going to be limited by my own expectations and not other people’s, so for me that means the performance can be limitless. I am playing in a good side, so that allows me to play as well as possible.”
Leeds Rhinos: from Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Sinfield, McGuire, Leuluai, R Ward, Peacock, Achurch, Clarkson, Delaney, S Ward, Kirke, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Bailey, Walters.
Leigh Centurions: from McNally, Pownall, Higson, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Spencer, Penkywicz, Bate, Sarsfield, Goulden, Barlow, Beswick, Wilkes, Emmitt, Acton, Hopkins, Haggerty.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.