JAMIE JONES-BUCHANAN is closing in on a return to full fitness, but admits he doesn’t expect to walk straight back into Leeds Rhinos’ team.
The 33-year-old has not played since suffering a hamstring tear in Rhinos’ win at Catalans Dragons on March 28.
“Hopefully if I’m not available for the Warrington game on Friday I will be the week after, which is Huddersfield away on the Thursday,” he said.
“I am improving really well. The physios have given me a really stringent re-hab’ plan and everything’s going as planned.
“But the fatal mistake you can make at times is being a bit over-eager and coming back too early, which obviously I don’t want to do.”
He added: “It was a little tear, I have had it before. It is in almost exactly the same place as when I did it at Catalans a few years ago. I have had enough tears now to understand what they are. I didn’t get it scanned, because regardless of what that showed up the re-hab would have been exactly the same.
“It’s all based on when the pain goes away and it’s not far off going now.”
Jones-Buchanan is confident he will be in good shape when he returns to action in the coming weeks.
He said: “I think when you’re injured you probably do more training than when you’re not.
“Not the running side of it, you’re not on your feet much, but you are in the gym almost every day.
“It gives you chance to freshen up one or two bits and get a bit stronger again. It is a bit like a mini pre-season.”
He currently has a wrist in a brace, but said that won’t add to his time on the sidelines.
“I’ve had a cortisone injection,” he revealed.
“I’ve had a bit of inflammation in my wrist, but hopefully I’ll come back brand new.”
Rhinos have won the four games Jones-Buchanan has missed and hold a big lead at the top of the First Utility Super League table, which will make getting back into the team a tough job.
“I will certainly have a battle to get my place back and that’s really good news,” he said.
“That’s why we’re sat top of the league and six points clear, because the young boys are stepping in and doing a great job.
“I keep saying it – but it’s true.
“Brian McDermott (the Leds Rhinos’ coach) put a lot of conditioning into everyone in pre-season and that’s paying dividends now.
“We are coming into a crucial period of the season now, following Easter which was very tough.
“The lads will start picking up bumps and bruises and start feeling a bit tired so, for me, whatever I do I want to come back and add something to the group.”