APPEALS TO the highest power helped Jamie Jones-Buchanan get through his Leeds Rhinos comeback.
After three games out with a foot injury, the 35-year-old warhorse played the full 80 minutes of Rhinos’ 28-12 win at Huddersfield Giants.
He came through in good shape and described his return – in a team recording a third successive win – as “class”.
Said the devoted Christian: “I was asking for all the prayers at church that I might get through it unscathed.
“I believe in it, I go to church every week and by God’s grace I am able to still play this great game at nearly 36 years old.
“It seems to get me through and prayers were answered last weekend.”
Coming out of the game with no recurrence of the injury as “one of my primary goals” Jones-Buchanan confirmed.
“I wanted to get back in the team and not just dip my toe in it either, I wanted to try and contribute,” he said.
“I got a good 80 minutes under my belt and that’s good for me going into a massive game against Wigan this week and the big Easter period.
“I am delighted.”
Jones-Buchanan admitted he hadn’t expected to be on the field for the entire game. He said: “I was blowing at one point – I was saying I might need five or 10 minutes’ rest.
“But then somebody came up with big play, we got a penalty under the sticks, kicked it and I seemed to get my wind back while we were taking that kick so I said ‘I’m all right, I’m all right, I’ll carry on’.
“It is all money in the bank and I really enjoyed it. My foot seems all right, which is credit to the physios.
“I want to thank them, they have been great with me.
“I am probably too eager sometimes to want to get back too early, but they made me wait and I am really pleased I did.”
The six-time Grand Final winner – who has 363 first team games under his belt for Leeds – admitted he is having to learn to be patient.
“I am getting older and a bit slower,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of injuries and my body seems to heal and I just crack on.
“I am just glad to be back with the boys and their intent and commitment at the moment is phenomenal.
“You can really tell, when you are off the pitch and when you’re on it as well.” Of the injury, he confirmed: “I tore the fascia, which is the tissue that holds your heel to your toes.
“It’s just a case of being smart with it, two years ago I came back too early – twice – with a hamstring and it turned into a nightmare, but I seem to be over it now.
“Experts reckon the three most determining factors in a muscle tear are: west African or Caribbean origin, age and prior injury. I am pretty high in all three so I have to take care.”
Jones-Buchanan was hurt against Salford Red Devils last month, when Rhinos went on to record a second successive win.
His first match on the sidelines was the notorious 66-10 loss at Castleford Tigers, but he has returned to a Rhinos team playing with renewed confidence.
“We were still finding our feet [in February],” he said.
“When you look at the league, every game is a battle and we have taken a lot of confidence out of scoring a lot of points in the last few weeks. Take away the Cas game and our defence has actually been pretty good for large parts of this season. We had to defend our line against Huddersfield and we did that.
“That was the big positive from Friday, line defence can be worth 12 points.
“Our back-three took some great balls and made some try-savers. The boys have been fantastic, but we have to keep building because it is a long season.”