In praise of Peacock, a class act

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IF there is one player in Super League who has my total respect, it is Leeds’ Jamie Peacock.

The Rhinos prop cut an inspirational figure last Friday night as the Rhinos beat Manly in a World Club Challenge that was never less than compelling.

At various points in a long career that kicked off in the back row for Bradford Bulls, Peacock has been rated in the top two or three front rowers in the game.

And now, in the twilight of his professional life, he still doesn’t look too far off that mark.

The way he relentlessly carted the ball forward against Manly, especially in the second half when Leeds had their backs firmly against the wall, was a key factor in his side’s success.

Ability is one thing though, attitude is quite another.

Peacock’s bloody-minded determination, discipline and humility mark him down as the kind of player you find only a few times in a generation.

If there was a cut-out-and-keep template for the ideal rugby league forward, Peacock would be pretty much it.

OFFERING my opinion on Widnes’ early short-comings last week appeared to put me in the bad books of at least one member of the black and white faithful.

For the record, I’m happy to see the Vikings back at the game’s top table, having maintained three and a half years ago that they should have been given a Super League licence then ahead of the obviously doomed Celtic Crusaders.

It’s just that I think now they are there they’re making a bit of a hash of the whole thing.

And in the last seven days they’ve lost comfortably at home to a relatively weak Salford, suspended three senior players for the old ‘disciplinary’ reasons and seen key playmaker Anthony Watts and their best young forward Ben Kavanagh ruled out for six months with injury.

Going well? No.

So, rearrange the following words to make a sentence: The. Betts. Coach. First. Sacked. To. Be.

Now, where did I put Brian Noble’s phone number?

HALIFAX play Featherstone this weekend in a game that should provide an early form indicator for both the reigning Co-operative Championship champions and a team that most people expect to be among their nearest challengers in 2012.

The two clubs have cultivated a rich on-field rivalry over the last few years, with last season’s Northern Rail Cup quarter final at Post Office Road a showcase for the quality of the competition outside Super League.

Unfortunately, that excellence has been marred by unsavoury incidents off the field, dating back to the cowardly attack on David Singer at the 2010 Grand Final.

As a result, supporters will be segregated at the Shay on Sunday.

That is absolutely the right decision from both the clubs and the police. It is also one I wish had not been needed.

Personally, I hope Sunday brings a fantastic game of rugby league, and absolutely nothing else.

To the tiny minority of idiots, I have a simple message: Stay away.