After claiming the wooden spoon last year with the Wests Tigers, Tyrone Peachey says his career has done a “full 180” following Penrith’s Minor Premiership win last Saturday.
As he enters his first NRL Finals Series with the Panthers since 2018, the 32-year-old almost can’t believe his luck after he revealed to Extra Time on Tuesday that he contemplated retirement during his rough one-year stint with the battling joint venture last season.
“To be honest, I was almost going to give the game up at the Tigers. It was hard rocking up to training. I wasn’t really happy mentally,” Peachey admitted.
“When the swap with Charlie Staines ended up happening, I just said I’d give it my all in pre-season and see what happens.”
Thinking he’d just play a handful of games in first grade, Peachey has since strung together 14 matches and scored 10 tries playing in the centres and off the interchange bench for the Panthers this season.
“I have ended up playing a few games and Ivan’s just kind of backed me,” Peachey said.
“Even though I’ve had some hiccups along the way, a few stuff ups here and there, Iv’s talked me through it and has been really good with me.
“I just don’t want to let anyone down; I don’t want to let him down. I love this club for giving me my first opportunity all those years ago and I just want to try and do my best.”
206 games into his NRL career, Peachey finally got to celebrate some silverware last weekend when the Panthers secured their second straight J.J. Giltinan Shield for first past the post.
“It’s pretty surreal! I got the wooden spoon last year and did a full 180 – got the Minor Premiership this year,” Peachey said.
“I’ve played in a few Finals games before but have never gone past week two.”
The Wellington Cowboys junior is a red-hot chance to progress further in the post-season than he ever has before after he was named on the bench for Penrith’s clash with the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday afternoon.
Peachey said he’s looking forward to contributing to a Panthers win in any way he can.
“I’m just happy to be a part of it. This team is so special, has so many good players and the system is really awesome to be a part of,” he said.
“Whatever Iv needs I’m happy to do. If it’s on the bench and fill in, be that utility, I’m definitely happy to do that. It’s probably my best role.
“That bench spot is my position to lose, I just have to keep on playing good footy.”
Good footy is what earned Peachey a new one-year deal with the Panthers back in July. With several clubs hunting his signature, the former Shark, Titan and Tiger said he was over switching clubs and was very happy to remain where he was.
“I’m just happy here and even if I’m not playing first grade, I’m happy to play Cup,” Peachey said.
“I just wanted to get back in a happy place. I’m keen as to keep playing and I’m not even thinking about retirement at the moment.
“I’m really excited to hopefully give myself two opportunities to try and win a competition.”
The Panthers will kick-off their 2023 Finals campaign with a home match against the fourth-placed New Zealand Warriors this Saturday afternoon.
Like most matches at BlueBet Stadium this season, the game is expected to be a sell-out. Peachey said he can’t wait to play his first-ever Finals match in Penrith.
“The Warriors are an exciting team and have been playing really good footy – it’s great to see,” he said.
“Shaun Johnson has been playing really well. We kind of came through at the same time and to see him killing it is awesome.
“We have a lot of New Zealand fans out here, so it should be sold out. It should be a great game – I can’t wait!”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.