JAMIE Peacock is almost misty-eyed as he looks backs at his involvement in Leeds-Bradford derbies during a glorious career which has seen him win a record eight Grand Finals.
The first three of those successes came in the red, amber and black of Bradford, the latter five with his hometown club Leeds.
The veteran prop will retire at the end of 2015, a year in which the Bulls will begin life in the Championship, and a back problem means he will be absent tomorrow and has thus played in the fixture for the last time.
Peacock, who turns 37 in December, told the T&A: "Certainly when I played my last game for Bradford in the 2005 Grand Final, I never thought that nine years later they would be relegated.
“When Leeds and Bradford were challenging at the top they were the games you wanted to play in.
“They had that extra edge about them because they were derbies and were almost four-pointers every time.
“There were some great personal rivalries as well, Stuart Fielden and Barrie McDermott being the one that stands out, which only added to the occasion.
“We could play each other five or six times a year because we were in the play-offs and the latter stages of the Challenge Cup.
“When I was playing for Bradford against Leeds I wanted to put one over on the team that didn’t sign me.
“When I’ve played for Leeds, as a Leeds lad I wanted to beat Bradford because they’re our local rivals. The toughest derby for us this year, though, has been against Castleford.”
Two derbies in particular stand out for Peacock – both when he was a Bradford player.
He remembered: “The first was in 2003 when we beat Leeds 18-16 at Headingley.
“That was probably the biggest impact I had on winning a derby game and I won Man of Steel that year.
“Then obviously my final game for Bradford, beating Leeds in the 2005 Grand Final, was a great way to end my career there.”
Despite his advancing years, Peacock has enjoyed another outstanding campaign as the Rhinos prepare to march on Old Trafford once again.
He reasoned: “My performances have probably been seven or eight years in the making and I didn’t really play prop until I signed for Leeds in 2006.
“I’ve developed into the role but I think a lot of it is to do with mindset.
“I’m just not accepting any limitations put on me by other people about what I can and can’t do at my age.
"Therefore I’m going to continue to go out and play and push my limits as hard as I possibly can. That will allow me to play consistently well every week.
“People are too eager to pigeon-hole props and say they can do only 20 or 30 minutes.
“Props pigeon-hole themselves and want to come off after 20 minutes but I don’t think that’s the right mindset to have. Why not have an open mindset and push yourself as hard as you can?
“If you’ve trained hard over a long period of time, you should able to play for longer periods.”
Peacock is currently midway through a Masters degree in sports business and administration at Leeds Met and aims to secure a top job in rugby league when he retires.
He also plans to continue his media work and public speaking which has seen him address a wide range of audiences, from inmates at Armley prison to the England rugby union squad.
Peacock added: “Getting a good mark in my Masters is key because that gives me a great academic base alongside my practical knowledge of rugby league.
“I want to be involved in senior management within the game because I’ve got the experience to do it and the academic knowledge too.
“On a practical level, I’ve been working with Jon Roberts in the performance department at England RL, helping with the strategy for the next four years ahead of the 2017 World Cup.
“Jon and I worked quite closely from September last year to January, so I have quite a lot of practical, hands-on experience.
“They were particularly happy with what I produced for them, so that’s something I’d like to get into and I also enjoy the work on television as well. A combination of those two roles would suit me best.”
Peacock’s stories are inspiring and one favourite is the time he refused to get off the bus for a trial at Bradford when he was 18 because his bottle went.
The following week he did alight the bus at Odsal, the 508 from Bramley to Halifax, and had his trial.
He has never looked back since.
“I enjoy doing the public speaking and think I’ve got some good tales to tell,” he said.
“I usually get really good feedback and my stories resonate with people.”
Peacock has no desire to become a coach but said of his old team-mate Jimmy Lowes: “He’s the right man to turn the club around.
“Jimmy understands what it means to play for Bradford and the history of the club.
“He understands how passionate the Bulls fans are and he’s also a really good coach.
“He’ll get the best out of his players, and you’ve seen that already with the win against Wigan, but I think the fans are going to play a big role too.
“They will have the biggest fanbase in the division and the likes of Robbie Hunter-Paul and Marc Green are going to be integral if they are going to have any success in that division.
“It’s not going to be easy but realistically the key is to make sure you finish in the top four and then you’re playing your best rugby and have got everyone fit for the play-offs.
“You’re then going into that play-off series on the back of four or five consecutive wins, which gives you a chance of beating the Super League teams who drop down."