England captain Jamie Peacock quits international rugby league

Jamie Peacock

England captain Jamie Peacock has announced his retirement from international rugby league.

The 34-year-old has called time on his 12-year international career, although he will play on with Leeds.

"To play and captain your country is the highest honour and this was a decision that was not taken lightly," said ex-Great Britain captain Peacock.

"I felt that the time would be right for me to step down and solely concentrate on playing for my club."

He added: "In 2000, when I made my debut, it was beyond my wildest ambition and dreams that I would then go on to represent my country nearly 50 times and captain them for seven years."

Peacock, who was awarded the MBE in this year's New Year Honours list, recently signed a new two-year deal with Leeds and will remain at the club until the end of 2014.

"The focus for Steve McNamara and the England team has to be the objective of trying to win the Rugby League World Cup next year and for the next generation of players to be part of that process.

"I feel now is the time for the younger players to rise to the challenge of trying to be the dominant force in world rugby league over the next few years," he added.

Peacock, who made his England debut against Russia in the 2000 World Cup and led England for the last time in their 18-10 win over the Exiles earlier this month, said he made his mind up to retire from international duty in January.

"Whenever I have captained or played for my country against the best in the world I have always enjoyed rising to the challenge and played with passion, commitment and honesty. I believe that this current England team will continue to do the same."

Coach Steve McNamara now has to find a new captain for next week's second international origin game against the Exiles and knows whoever is chosen has a tough act to follow.

"Jamie Peacock is rugby league's ultimate warrior. It has been a privilege and an honour to coach Jamie at international level," he said.

"He has given every ounce of blood, sweat and tears to the national set-up and it will be a massive challenge to replace such a fantastic athlete and captain.

"He is the perfect role model for any aspiring junior wanting to be the best they can be. The way he inspires those around him is his distinct quality."

Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington told BBC Radio Leeds the former Bradford Bulls player has earned plaudits in both hemispheres.

"He epitomises everything you'd want from an international player. He's proud, he's patriotic and he's a very determined character," he said

"To be an international for 12 years, especially rugby league really is quite remarkable.

"He's come out at a time when he's got the respect of everybody both here and in the southern hemisphere. He's won the admiration of the Australians and that is not an easy thing to do."