Leeds Rhinos: JJB return from injury hinges on fitness test

Jamie Jones-Buchanan
Jamie Jones-Buchanan
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A FITNESS test today will determine if England forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan can make his Leeds Rhinos comeback this weekend.

Jones-Buchanan has not played since suffering a biceps injury in Rhinos’ 14-10 defeat at St Helens on March 28.

But he attended England’s mid-season training camp in Loughborough at the start of this week and said he will be raring to go against Widnes Vikings on Sunday, if medics give the all-clear.

“I haven’t done any field stuff or much running for the last eight or nine weeks, so it’s a case of seeing where the rest of my body’s at,” Jones-Buchanan said.

“But certainly I hope to be in contention for this Sunday and if not I’ll be available for the Catalan game the week after.”

Rhinos were without seven first-choice players through injury or suspension when they lost to Huddersfield Giants last Friday.

Three of those were back-rowers, but another England man Carl Ablett has completed a two-game ban and will also be available to face Widnes.

“It has been a horrible time,” Jones-Buchanan said of his two and a half month lay-off.

“Playing is what you do on a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon and if that’s not there

you’ve got nothing to prepare for and nothing to recover from either.

“It is a big loss. I am involved with other things and I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of speaking – at schools or dinners – and writing and media work and things like that.

“But being with England this week was fantastic, because it got me back in with some of the best players of the competition and I feel really fortunate and privileged to have been there, particularly because I haven’t played that many games this year.

“But it is all part of life. Part of success is how you deal with adversity.

“While it doesn’t feel very nice, you have to deal with it positively.”

Jones-Buchanan has done radio commentaries on several Rhinos games during his injury absence.

“I am biased,” he admitted. “I am a Leeds player, but I am also a Leeds supporter and I have been forever.

“At Warrington a couple of weeks ago we got beat quite heavily and the Sky cameras popped on me and I looked a bit fed up – my eyes were popping out of my head.

“It is pretty obvious I am distraught. The hardest thing is you want to be out there, with your family.

“We are like a family and in tough times you want to be out there, even if it means getting battered. I want to get battered with them.

“I want to go down with the ship, but when you are sat up in the crowd you feel like you are letting them down.

“It is hard, but at the same time we’ve got the rest of the season to go and I am going to be there, hopefully, and hopefully I can contribute to the team.”

Rhinos have lost three of their last four Super League games, which makes Sunday’s trip to Widnes a must-win fixture.

“They have been fantastic all year,” Jones-Buchanan said of this weekend’s opponents.

“They have improved this year and their coach Denis Betts has done a great job.

“They have got a tough week because they play Wigan (tonight) and they’ve got us on Sunday, but they are a good side and it will be a tough game for us.”

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

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