HULL KR head of rugby Jamie Peacock has explained how he wanted to keep his playing return as “low-key” as possible.
Clearly, that was never going to be possible – the former Great Britain captain’s decision to come out of retirement was one of the biggest rugby league stories this season – but he has done his utmost to create a smooth transition at the East Yorkshire club.
With an injury-crisis and ongoing fight against relegation, 38-year-old Peacock came off the bench to help them to a vital 58-18 Qualifiers win at London Broncos on Sunday.
Given he is normally the man in charge of all things football, it had to be a surreal experience for the Rovers players but the former Leeds Rhinos prop was pleased with how things played out.
“The players all accepted it and I can understand it can affect the team dynamics,” said Peacock, whose last game was Leeds’ Super League Grand Final win over Wigan Warriors 11 months ago.
“But I’ve just tried to keep it as low key as possible; let them get on with it, stay away where necessary, keep my mouth shut where necessary, then speak up where I think it’s needed I speak up.
“It’s been good. We had a good week’s prep and a very good performance in patches.
“But we need to go again now; good teams are consistent and we need to find that consistency.”
Rovers know winning their final two games at Featherstone Rovers this Sunday and then a week later at home to Huddersfield Giants will secure third place and their Super League slot for 2017.
Slip-up in either and they may be consigned to the Million Pound Game between fourth and fifth with Huddersfield and Salford still hunting them down.
Part-timers Featherstone, yet to win in the Qualifiers, were vanquished 70-16 at Salford on Sunday and the Robins will look to put a similar scoreline on Jon Sharp’s side this weekend, knowing points difference could be crucial in the final outcome.
That said, with time running out, Featherstone will no doubt try and cause one upset and will fancy their chances at Post Office Road more than anywhere else.
“They are a different side at their own ground,” said Peacock, who spent a loan spell there from Bradford Bulls back in 1998.
“But we’ve been away to London and you really don’t get much different to that (Ealing).
“You really have to create your own atmosphere and own environment there. We managed to do that within the dressing room and the warm-up and that’s why we managed to come out and play as well as we did against London.
“We need to do the same at Featherstone. Points difference is key, too, and the last six minutes when we defended 30 tackles on our line was important.
“We spoke just after we scored our last try that they won’t get another as it could hurt us.
“To show that sort of commitment to each other was fantastic.
“There’s some areas we need to tighten up on – we allowed London back in with our decision-making – and we’ll work hard on those the next couple of weeks.”
Peacock quickly got into the action after coming on in the 28th minute and his carries improved each time before he went off again in the 53rd.
Indeed, he played longer spells than many expected.
“I think the coach was happy with what I was doing, that’s why!” added the 2003 Man of Steel.
“If you distil rugby right down it’s about working hard, running hard and tackling hard and I thought that’s what I was going to bring to the game.
“I’m obviously a bit off from where I was the year before but in terms of helping other people, that’s more where I’m going to benefit the team – just coming on and giving our forwards a bit of rest for half hour.
“I was happy with how it went. It was an interesting build-up and I’ll go to Fev all the better for the game. But I’m more happy with how the team responded to the back 50 minutes of the Leigh loss. They responded well.”