TODAY’S VISIT of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats is a must-win for Leeds Rhinos – but talisman Jamie Jones-Buchanan says that is business as normal.
Rhinos are ninth in First Utility Super League with just two wins from their opening seven games, but face two of the three teams below them in the next five days.
Rhinos are also at home to Hull KR on Friday night and Jamie Jones-Buchanan said: “They are all must-win games. I don’t turn up anywhere to lose, but certainly where we’ve been results-wise and with our lack of points in the league table, we want and need to win this one to stay in the pack and not drop too far behind.”
The 34-year-old veteran, a six-time Grand Final-winner, added: “We need to improve and I have every confidence we will do. There’ll be a point this season when we have our say, but we need to make sure we win games like this one to ensure we are in a good position when that happens.”
Leeds – who lost 18-14 at Castleford last Thursday – are in their deepest hole since Brian McDermott became coach ahead of the 2011 season, but Jones-Buchanan said: “We’ve had so many trophies and so much success, but we’ve also been through some tough patches and this is no different.
“I’ve always said all the success is fantastic, but it is times like this, when you face adversity, that creates tough teams.
“In the long-run this will be good for all the young players at the Rhinos.”
Wildcats are 10th, one place behind Leeds on points difference. Their 36-22 win over Huddersfield Giants on Friday left Leeds as Super League’s lowest points scorers.
“They will be confident,” Jones-Buchanan predicted. “They have got a new, young coach and there’ll be no better way of getting their season going than beating Leeds at Headingley. They will sniff a bit of blood, so we have to have all hands on deck.”
Jones-Buchanan has featured in Rhinos’ last three games since recovering from a potentially career-ending quad injury suffered in July, 2015.
“I am feeling absolutely fantastic,” he said. “I’ve been overwhelmed by all the good wishes and people saying they are glad I am back.
“I had a text from someone saying ‘we know you will do your best, as you always do’.
“I am happy if that is how people perceive me. I will get better as the season goes on.”