Leeds Rhinos: McDermott heaps praise on veteran Rhinos pair

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott
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Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott has paid tribute to two of his veteran forwards as they approach significant milestones.

Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott has paid tribute to two of his veteran forwards as they approach significant milestones.

Ian Kirke, 33, will make his 200th appearance for Rhinos at home to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats tonight, while fellow prop Jamie Peacock, 36, is celebrating his 500th career game.

“Kirkey is a very unsung hero and he is actually growing in presence within the squad,” McDermott said.

“A lot of that is to do with his performances on the field. He is a very safe defender, a big man, very athletic and provides us with a lot of go-forward.

“Those 200 games will surprise a few people, but he has won a fair few bits of silverware at this club and it would be hard to have him out of your 17.

“If you are going to pick your best 17 over the last two, three or four years and maybe the next couple of years going forward, it would be a good player that pushes Kirkey out of the team.

“We are really grateful he is with us. We know what problems he causes the opposition.”

Rhinos have renamed today ‘JP Day’ in Peacock’s honour. Of the former England captain, McDermott said: “What he has been for the last couple of years and will continue to be is a bit of a benchmark of what’s possible.

“Other people have played at his age, but he is at the top level and the sharp end of our sport. He regularly gets challenged every single week.

“Every young prop and every young forward wants to get a scalp and they all come for JP. He physically handles that every week and his on-field awareness is like having a coach out there.

“I think what JP is going to become, if he is not already, is a benchmark for what’s possible for all those who are approaching 29 or 30 and think ‘I’ve only got another two or three years left’.

“Most people could achieve what JP has done if - and it’s a big if - they are prepared to make the sacrifices in life he has and put the time and effort in.

“His favourite phrase is that the extra mile is a lonely road. He has certainly done that extra mile in terms of preparation away from us.

“That’s the most important stuff, what you do away from the team. He is reaping the rewards and I just hope it is a fantastic night for him in terms of turnout, the result and the spectacle itself. He deserves everything.”

Considering tonight’s game, McDermott reckons Rhinos need to prepare for a backlash following their 60-6 win at Wakefield in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup just five days ago.

He said: “We have got to preempt what their reaction might be and how they will tactically go for the game.

“What we planned to do on Sunday had an element of success, but in fairness - and I think their coach Richie Agar would admit this as well - I think we ended up running through some tired defence and at the back end of the game it was less to do with game plan or structure.

“We have got to take all that into consideration and come up with another process to go through and make sure we don’t just rely on what we did last time.”

McDermott added: “We certainly had to work for the first 15 minutes on Sunday.

“After that they clearly weren’t at the races, but they are a better team than they showed last week and we will be facing a better team [tonight].

“We have got to make sure we get psychologically ready for an energetic, enthusiastic Wakefield, which I am sure we will be.”

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