IT is ALWAYS disappointing when a team-mate leaves.
Most players are up front about it and like to let the rest of the team know the situation when they can.
Paul Aiton told us all at the start of the week that he will be leaving to join Catalans next season.
That was disappointing news because, one, Paulie is a brilliant player and a key part of what we are doing and two, he is such a good fella as well. He is a great person to have around and you will not meet a nicer bloke.
I think we would all have liked him to stay, but that’s sport: people move on and opportunities open up at other clubs.
Paulie has been at Leeds a couple of years and I know he has really enjoyed it and built some good friendships, but obviously he has got to look after himself financially and he wants a change of lifestyle, which he will get in the south of France.
Rugby is a short career and you have to maximise your earning potential where you can. Paulie isn’t from Leeds and doesn’t have the same ties to the club that the local lads do, but knowing him like I do, I am sure he will be 100 per cent committed for the rest of the season and wanting to finish on a high.
He will want to be involved in the big games coming up and there’s a chance for him to be part of some club history, so I think we’ll see the best of him over the next couple of months.
He is the fourth player leaving at the end of this year, that we know about, so there’s going to be a big turnaround. That was always going to happen at some stage, because we’ve had such a settled side for a few years now.
A couple of players have already been signed, but I honestly don’t know what the club have in mind in terms of recruitment. Players aren’t kept in the loop on that sort of thing, but I’m sure they have got something up their sleeve.
The other big news this week was the injury to Jamie Jones-Buchanan. From what I’ve heard, he will be out of action for six to nine months, which was the only real sore point from last weekend.
To be honest, it did take a bit of the gloss off our Challenge Cup semi-final win. We all really feel for Jonesy, who is a very highly valued member of our squad and team.
He has had some terrible luck with injuries this year and when he’s not playing we miss his work ethic and the little things he does on the field, that probably go unnoticed from the sidelines.
He is a players’ player and he does a lot of the hard work. He is tough and uncompromising and everyone is devastated for him, because he is such a good character.
He is also one of the most mentally strong people I know. I’ve seen on Twitter some fans are questioning whether he will be back, but he will – I have no doubt about that.
He is incredibly competitive and determined and he will want to end his career on the right note.
I know Keith Senior still feels bad about having to finish due to injury and Jonesy will be determined that doesn’t happen to him.
On Monday he was in the gym, doing some work on upper body strength – and he could hardly move his leg. That shows what sort of character he is and I am looking forward to seeing him back on the field at the start of next season.
Looking ahead to tonight, it is a massive game for a lot of reasons. It is the start of a new competition and we want to get our Super-8s campaign off to a winning start.
Also, Warrington have beaten us twice this year and that’s something we feel bad about.
We want to go out there and show we are a better team than the one that’s faced them earlier in the year.
Warrington will be hurting after losing their Cup semi-final last weekend and that will make them even more dangerous. I know they’ve got a few injuries and Ben Westwood is still suspended, but they are a quality side, with some great players and we’re expecting a really tough game.
It will be interesting to see how Chris Sandow goes on his debut. I haven’t seen much of him because I don’t really watch the NRL, but I am aware of him and what he can do and he’s the sort of player who will make a big difference to them.
He’s going to add a bit more spice to the occasion, but we are just focused on playing well. The next seven league matches are all massive, against top-eight opposition and this is the time we really need to be hitting top form.