VETERAN FORWARD Jamie Jones-Buchanan says he is “proud” to be playing alongside Leeds Rhinos’ young prospects.
With 10 players sidelined due to injury, recent academy graduates Ashton Golding, Ash Handley, Jordan Lilley and Liam Sutcliffe all featured in last Friday’s 28-20 loss at Huddersfield Giants, along with Josh Walters and Jimmy Keinhorst – who are still relatively new to the sport –and 17-year-old debutant Cameron Smith.
Jones-Buchanan, now 34, was in a similar situation when he made his Rhinos debut in 1999.
And he said: “It is a joy to be out there with them.
“Cam Smith was six months old when I made my debut and Jordan Lilley was two.
“It is an overlapping of two generations.
“I am so chuffed because I can see that next week, next month and next year they are just going to keep going and they will get there a lot quicker than the last generation did.
“And when they do they have the potential to be a lot better as well.
“Just watch out, I know it tough now and we are at the bottom of the melting pot, but what you can’t do is lose faith.
“A house that’s divided against itself is never going to go anywhere, but we are sticking together and we still believe in ourselves.”
Rhinos return to Huddersfield in four days’ time for a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth round tie. It will be the 12th occasion during the summer era Rhinos have played the same opposition in successive matches, but Jones-Buchanan insisted: “I don’t think it has much of a bearing.
“The only thing it is is a bit of a marker, a dart in the board. We can have a look at this game and at where we went wrong and where we went right and what we can improve on.
“We weren’t a million miles off. A few better decisions and a bit better execution and we would have been the better team.”