GIVEN how well he knows Hull FC boss Lee Radford, Jamie Peacock is not surprised in the slightest how he has transformed the Black and Whites’ season.
The pair were pack colleagues at Bradford Bulls for seven largely glorious years before both departed after their famous 2005 Grand Final win over Leeds.
Radford moved back to Hull to round off his career and then, after a short stint as assistant, took over as head coach of his hometown club in September 2013 when still aged just 34.
He was under immense pressure at the start of this season when, having won impressively 19-0 at Huddersfield on the opening day, they then lost their next four consecutive matches.
Most spectacularly in that run, they squandered a 12-0 interval lead against the Rhinos to be annihilated 43-12 at the KC Stadium in March but, generally, their defeats were close-run things.
Easter Monday proved a turning point when a victory at champions St Helens signalled a run that has seen them lose just three times in 11 contests.
“Lee Radford needs plenty of credit for what he’s done there,” said veteran Leeds prop Peacock.
“He’s a young coach coming through who has stuck to his guns and stuck to what he thought would work.
“He didn’t get results at first but they are certainly getting them now.
“Hull’s senior players are all playing particularly well especially in the forwards while the half-backs are doing a great job, too.
“We know we will have to play very, very well to get the result we want on Sunday.”
Hull lost 20-14 at Catalans Dragons a week ago but were widely thought to have been unlucky not to prosper.
Similarly, Leeds were close against Castleford before going down 31-24 and subsequently losing top spot to St Helens.
“Hull will probably feel the same as us – that they performed well but didn’t come out with the result you’d imagine,” added Peacock, as Leeds – leaders for much of the year – look to gain only their third win in eight league games.
“Sometimes that can happen. Their confidence won’t be wavering and Hull will be like most teams who come to Headingley – wanting to enjoy the experience and get a win – so it’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Peacock, of course, will join Hull’s city rivals Hull KR at the end of the season as football manager once he calls time on a remarkable career that has provided eight Grand Final wins, four World Club Challenge titles and three Challenge Cup successes not to mention 47 caps for Great Britain and England.
Have Rovers fans been in his ear this week urging him to start the work now by beating their fierce foes?
“I think they’ll leave me alone knowing I’m still a Leeds player and they’ll be worrying about their own team at the moment,” he said.
Peacock, 37, says he hasn’t truly contemplated hanging up his boots yet either.
“It’s still a bit too far out to be thinking about my last game coming up,” he said.
“Once we get into the Super 8s things might be different.
“I think then I’ll be thinking this is the last couple of miles on the marathon and those games will certainly have added meaning for me but I’m not at that point yet.”
Meanwhile, Radford is delighted after capturing former New Zealand Test back-row Frank Pritchard from Canterbury Bulldogs on a three-year deal starting in 2016.
The 31-year-old, who played for Samoa in the 2014 Four Nations Series, has agreed a two-year deal with the Black and Whites, who also have an option on a third season. Radford said: “Frank is a quality signing. He is going to be a real hit in this competition and, as a former club captain at the Bulldogs, a Grand Final winner and a top New Zealand international for some years, his CV speaks for itself.
“The fact we had to fight so hard against three or four other clubs in Super League to get his signature – and Canterbury’s reluctance to see him go – speaks volumes.
“It is a real sign of his quality and the stature of the man.”