Prop idol Jamie Peacock was honoured, moved and a little embarrassed by the fuss made over his 500th career appearance.
Peacock brought up the milestone in Leeds Rhinos’ 42-6 First Utility Super League win over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats three days ago – exactly 15 years after his senior debut for Bradford Bulls against the same opposition.
Rhinos made last Friday ‘JP Day’ and thousands of Peacock masks were handed out to the crowd.
The former England captain also led the team on to the field and capped his special day with a second-half try. He said: “I am really grateful to everybody who helped make it a special occasion.
“On the way to the game I was getting a bit nervous, but I thought to myself ‘what are you doing? It’s just a normal game, just get out there and have a go’.
“It was really enjoyable and it has been a humbling experience. I have had a lot of kind messages from people and it has been really nice to receive them. I am grateful for all that and for the career I have had, so far. I have met some great people and had some great times.
“It has widened my world like you would not believe. I was looking at some photos and the person I was then to the person I am now, there’s a lot of things the same, but a lot of things are different. That’s down to the people I have met. They have improved me so much as a person and I am always going to be grateful for that.
“When I’ve been thinking about it that’s my overriding feeling about things – I am just grateful for how they have improved me as a bloke and the times I’ve had.”
Peacock admitted the celebrations were “a little bit embarrassing”, but he added: “I see why they are doing it and it is pleasing, because it’s great they are recognising it (the milestone). It is embarrassing, but so be it.”
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott played alongside Peacock at Bradford Bulls, when the former Stanningley amateur was beginning to make his name as a Super League player.
Said the team boss: “He isn’t massively different from the fella he was when he first started playing.
“He has had an outstanding career and I am pleased for him. He has had a few setbacks, but he has got where he is through hard work and dedication.
“Hopefully he has got another little while and another chapter of his career still to go.”