A few years ago I looked at the English Rugby League team and I saw a problem.
For all the talk from coaches and administrators that they were looking to build towards the 2013 World Cup, I saw a side that was being selected with no thought of its future make up in mind.
In fact it was only mid way through last year when I wrote about the issues England would be facing heading into the World Cup when they selected Jamie Peacock as captain against the Exiles. I wrote that there was a real possibility that England could enter the World Cup with Jamie Peacock and Adrian Morley leading the way, giving England’s starting forwards a combined age of 72.
That is just crazy, and that English team management could let us get to 2013 and not have a really good idea of what lineup they will run out in the World Cup is a giant failure on their behalf.
We now have a situation where some people are calling for Jamie Peacock to reverse his decision to retire from the England side and play in the World Cup. Most of these calls are based on how Peacock played against a Melbourne Storm side with just one trial game under its belt since the 2012 NRL Grand Final, fresh off the plane and dealing with jet leg while playing in Leeds against Leeds.
One of the most strangest articles I’ve read recently was by the Yorkshire Posts Dave Craven. In an article titled Australians Desperately Hoping Peacock Sticks To Vegas Pledge Craven suggest that Australia doesn’t like Peacock for some reason, and suggest that everything should be done to unleash old man river on Australia in the World Cup.
He cites statistics taken from the World Club Challenge to back his claim up. Forget a half done Storm forward pack easily out classed the Leeds Rhino’s pack, and over looking that Craig Bellamy rotated his forwards to perfection while his counterpart allowed his chargers to be run into the ground by playing them for too long, that sort of thing isn’t a consideration to Dave Craven.
The crazy thing in all of this is that, Jamie Peacock is at the end of a very long career. One in which he played a hell of a lot of test football.
In all of the tests Peacock played against Australia, even during the peak of his career, he was rarely ever in a winning side. In fact, when it come to games that really mattered, sudden death contests or finals…Peacock has never beaten Australia when it really matters.
Why would Australia fear a player with that record. Especially one that is well past his best.
While the Kiwi’s hold the World Cup and are once again the biggest threat to Australia winning the title back in November, England, typically, are so self absorbed that they consider themselves to be the biggest threat to Australia. They don’t rate New Zealand for what every reason. They are just obsessed with the Green and Gold.
Australia will likely run out in the World Cup with James Tamou and Matthew Scott leading the way up front. New Zealand have a few more options but no doubt Ben Matulino will be one of their book ends while the Kiwi’s can pick from Frank Pritchard, Jesse Bromwich, Sam Kasiano and even Sam McKendry to partner him.
When it comes to strength in the forwards, the Kiwi’s are so dominant up front that if it wasn’t for James Tamou’s defection to Australia, the Kangaroo’s would be no chance of matching them in the forwards.
You see, this is all part of an arms race that we are seeing played out in the game right now. At NRL level, we are in a golden ages of forwards. So much talent, so much depth. Players from all over the world battling it out in weekly wars against one another.
While all of this is going on, England thinks Australia is thinking about Jamie Peacock? Are they mad?
Even at his best Peacock was never really that much of a concern for Australia. A converted second rower who was never helped by the fact that every national coach he played under thought it was a good idea to run him into the ground against opposition packs that were rotated with their interchange bench.
If anyone in England think Australia is worried about facing a well past his best Jamie Peacock…I have some really bad news for them!
Still, I throw the personal challenge out there. I dare the Rugby Football League to select Jamie Peacock in the English team for the World Cup. Throw him in against the worlds best on the world stage and lets see if he can improve on his 2008 World Cup when he was part of the most humiliating effort any English touring side has ever put together in a major sporting competition.
Please run a 36 year old out against the likes of Tamou, Scott, Thaiday, Gallen and co and watch the fear in their eyes as they set up try after try after try for their backs.
This hero worshiping rubbish we are seeing lately from sections of the English press is doing no one any favours. Its as though some writers feel it is their job to run PR for the Rugby Football League in an effort to try and convince English fans that England has a chance of winning the World Cup.
To their credit, English fans are not buying it. It certainly isn’t something Rugby League fans will take seriously. They know what will happen in the World Cup. They know not to expect English success. We have a 40+ year sample size to go on for a team that keeps getting worse and worse every time they face Australia.
The funny thing is, when I point this out I get told by a few people that I think Australia is invincible. Far from it. I tipped the Kiwi’s to have an even better team in 2013’s World Cup than they had in 2008…and that prediction looks like it will be spot on the money if things keep going their way.
If I had to put money on it right now, I’d tip New Zealand to retain their crown as World Champions simply based on their depth in the forwards and the fact that many of their players will be the only ones in the 2013 World Cup that have ever tasted World Cup success!
If England thinks its great white hope is Jamie Peacock…good luck to them.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com