Proud Leeds Rhinos veteran Jamie Peacock has dedicated his MBE to past and present team-mates and the sport of rugby league.
The England captain admitted he was “shocked” to receive the award in today’s New Year’s honours, for services to rugby league.
Also honoured for services to rugby league is former Leeds player Bev Risman, who becomes an OBE.
Peacock, 34, is expecting some “mickey taking and dressing room banter” from his Rhinos colleagues when he reports in to begin pre-season training next week.
But the former Stanningley amateur said he wouldn’t have been recognised without the efforts of his colleagues at club and international level.
“I can’t overstate how shocked I was and how honoured I am to receive the award,” Peacock said.
“It is as much a reward for everybody I have played alongside as it is for myself.
“I am in a team sport and I have had quite a few successes over the years, but that’s down to the players I have played alongside and the coaches I have had – and most of the people at the clubs I have been involved in, at Bradford, Leeds, England and Great Britain.
“It is as much a reward for them and for the game as well. It is really pleasing.”
Rugby league is often ignored in the honours lists and Peacock added: “To get some outside recognition is always great for the game. We do struggle with that. It is good for the game as well and it will get people talking about the game.”
Peacock feels visiting Buckingham Palace to receive his medal will be the experience of a lifetime.
“I’ll take the family and I am looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ll get to meet the Queen and it is a huge honour to be able to do that.
“It is going to be a really special day and it’s one I – and I am sure my family – will remember for the rest of our lives.”
He went on: “I don’t know why I have been chosen, it just said services to rugby league. You never think about things like this.
“I just concentrate on playing well and working hard and I have found in life if you do those kind of things, success comes with it.
“It has come off the back of that. I started 2011 unsure at times whether I would come back from a career-threatening injury and after being involved in the Rhinos winning the Grand Final from fifth, getting to the Four Nations final and captaining England again, this has really topped off the year.
“It shows that hard work is what it is all about and it is a good lift for the new year.”
Recipients are warned not to discuss their honour until the official list is released to the media. Peacock is relieved that wait is now over. He said: “I received a letter during the Four Nations. It was a very official-looking envelope and I wondered what it could be.
“I opened it up and I was pretty shocked when I read the news. It has been really difficult keeping it secret, because it’s such good news. To keep it bottled up has been particularly difficult, but now it is out in the open I am really pleased.”
Leeds-born Peacock began playing rugby at his local Stanningley club, before turning professional with Bradford Bulls.
After four matches on loan at Featherstone Rovers in 1998, he made 207 appearance for the Odsal outfit from 1999-2005, winning the Challenge Cup in 2000 and 2003 and the Super League Grand Final in 2001, 2003 and 2005, plus World Club Challenges in 2002 and 2004.
His 166 games with Leeds include Grand Final triumphs in 2007, 2008, 2009 and this year and the 2008 World Club Challenge.
He was Man of Steel in 2003 and also played 26 times for Great Britain from 2001-2007, earned 21 England caps from 2000 to this year and has captained the national teams since 2005.
Risman’s OBE is another boost for rugby league. A dual-code international, Risman, now aged 74, made 164 appearances for Leeds from 1966-1970, kicking 611 goals.
He was a member of the 1968 Challenge Cup winning team in the famous Watersplash final against Wakefield and a Championship winner the following year.
Since retiring he has been involved in student rugby league, was a driving force behind the expansion of the game in the south of England and recently completed a term as RFL president.