Leeds Rhinos: JJB is back in business and eager for selection

Jamie Jones-Buchanan
Jamie Jones-Buchanan
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Stalwart forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan is hoping to make his Leeds Rhinos return away to Huddersfield Giants in two days’ time.

STALWART FORWARD Jamie Jones-Buchanan is hoping to make his Leeds Rhinos return away to Huddersfield Giants in two days’ time.

Jones-Buchanan was forced to make himself unavailable for last year’s World Cup due to a knee injury, then damaged a calf muscle in training ahead of Ryan Bailey’s testimonial game at the end of January.

That ruled him out of Rhinos’ opening three First Utility Super League fixtures, but he is now back in full training and available for selection.

“It has been a long old road, when you combine my knee and calf injuries together,” Jones-Buchanan said.

“It has probably been the longest lay-off I’ve ever had, so there’s a few nerves going into this week.

“I just want to be good and add to the team. The team has been fantastic, everybody’s playing real well and there’s real competition for places.

“As much as I am looking forward to getting back, I don’t just want to get back – I want to get back and play well.”

The veteran back-rower – who has 307 senior games for Leeds under his belt – admitted he can’t expect to walk straight back into the side.

Coach Brian McDermott was due to name his initial 19-man squad for the trip to John Smith’s Stadium this afternoon and Jones-Buchanan said: You have to fight for your place every week.

“That’s what a healthy team looks like and that’s what we all want. It is what Mac wants and it’s what he has got.

“I will see how it goes, I will train hard this week and if selected I’ll go out and do my best.”

The 32-year-old is confident he is over his recent injury woes.

“My calf seems all right,” he said. “I am probably more worried about getting some match fitness and getting back into it.

“The proof will be in the proverbial pudding, but I am all right. I am as good as I am going to get at the minute and I am just looking forward to getting a good run out.

“It is not great to miss any game, but if it is going to happen I would rather get it behind me and look forward to putting in 30-plus games, or being available for that many games.

“There’s nothing better than being in that week-in, week-out cycle of playing, having a weekend with your family and then getting back into it again.

“There’s something about that life and if you’re not playing you aren’t in that lifestyle.

“I am busy doing functions and promotions and other bits I have going on in my life, but I have got pretty fed up with that - I am at that stage when I just want to play rugby again.”

Despite the injuries to Jones-Buchanan and fellow forward Ian Kirke, Rhinos have won their three games so far.

“It has been a massive start,” Jones-Buchanan said. “Super League in general has been really interesting and exciting.

“I think particularly this year you have got to get off to a good start. The boys have done that and not only have they started well, they look strong.

“We know there’s still room for improvement and if we can carry on being disciplined and working hard there’s quite a high ceiling for us.”

Rhinos under-19s will play Giants’ academy at Huddersfield YMCA on Saturday (2.30pm).

Kallum Watkins (Picture: David Neilson/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ)

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