Halifax v Leeds Rhinos: JJB wary of tough ‘challenge’ at The Shay

Jack Walker and Jamie Jones-Buchanan of Leeds Rhinos tackle Adam Quinlan.
Jack Walker and Jamie Jones-Buchanan of Leeds Rhinos tackle Adam Quinlan.
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LEEDS RHINOS veteran Jamie Jones-Buchanan will be on yellow alert for tomorrow’s clash with Halifax.

The 38-year-old is Rhinos’ lone survivor from their last visit to The Shay, in March, 2003.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan pictured in 2003.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan pictured in 2003.

He was sin-binned for obstruction that evening as Leeds held on for a tense 20-14 win – and reckons it will be another tough 80 minutes tomorrow.

“Some of the lads have been asking me if I’ve ever played against Halifax,” Jones-Buchanan said.

“They got relegated in 2003, but I’ve played against them a fair few times and I remember getting sin-binned at The Shay, one of the few sin-binnings of my career.

“I can’t remember what for, but I don’t think I did it anyway, I don’t think it was me!

It will be nice to be back at The Shay and playing in a rich rugby league town, but we know it will be a big challenge.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan

“I do remember Daryl Powell coaching us and not being too happy with it, but it is a bit of a local derby and Halifax are a proud club with a lot of history and heritage.”

He warned: “Having Leeds back at their place is going to be a big occasion for them and I think it’ll be a big crowd and they’ll come at us with a lot of enthusiasm.

“I know Halifax probably don’t have much to play for in terms of points on the board, but against the current champions and a local rival club like Leeds it will be a massive one for them.

“It will be nice to be back at The Shay and playing in a rich rugby league town, but we know it will be a big challenge.”

Halifax have lost all five of their games in the Betfred Qualifiers, but gave a good account of themselves against Super League sides Hull KR and Widnes Vikings.

“They have got some good old heads in their side,” Jones-Buchanan warned.

“Scott Murrell was in the Leeds ranks as a kid and he has been outstanding this year.

“He has played some really good rugby and I know he’s still enjoying his rugby.

“He will want to play well against Leeds, he bosses the team around and I’m sure he will be up for it and so will their bigger boys.

“Some of the collisions against Widnes were huge. As far as the physical side of their game matching up to Super League, I think it’s every bit there.

“We are going to have to guard up for that and expect a very physical game and make sure we are really well prepared, otherwise it could be a real banana skin for us.”

Rhinos are on the back of successive wins against Super League opposition, for the first time since April.

Victory tomorrow could effectively secure Rhinos’ place in Super League for next season, but Jones-Buchanan stressed: “Everybody keeps talking about survival and we need these points to stay up, but I am looking beyond that.

“At the end of the season we are usually very good and this is the time of year when we win things.

“Certainly from my own personal perspective, I want to finish top of the middle-eights.

“I know there’s a big difference in points difference and Salford are sitting pretty at the top, but if we perform well in these next couple of games there’s no reason why we can’t finish top.

“That’s what my sight’s set on. I know there’s no trophies at the end of it, but this is where we are.

“This is the situation we find ourselves in and I want to finish as good as we possibly can.”

The wins over Salford and Widnes have given Rhinos some much-needed confidence, according to Jones-Buchanan.

He said: “They were both close games and it came down to a penalty in the last minute against Salford.

“This season all that has gone against us, when it has been a close game we’ve been on the wrong end of it.

“Last week I thought we played pretty well and the key thing is we put ourselves in a position to win the game at the death against a team playing with a lot of confidence who have had some good wins in recent weeks.

“It was a big performance against Widnes who came out to win and were very big and very physical.

“We have gained lots of confidence and going into the last two we need to use that to get the best possible results.”

Meanwhile, Jones-Buchanan has been signed up by England Knights.

He will take part in this autumn’s two-Test tour to Papua New Guinea as media manager.