Leeds Rhinos: ‘Flat’ JJB is pumped up for derby clash

Jamie Jones Buchanan.
Jamie Jones Buchanan.
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ATTITUDE WILL be all-important for Leeds Rhinos this week, according to veteran forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

Rhinos, who held a six-point lead on the First Utility Super League table less than two months ago, could be pushed into second spot by the time they face bottom club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Sunday.

After winning 10 of their opening 11 games, Rhinos have recorded just one victory in their last five and are now a single point ahead of St Helens, who play host to Salford Red Devils this Friday.

Rhinos will be expected to return to winning ways on Sunday against opponents who are on a 13-match losing run in the league, but Jones-Buchanan insisted the visitors need to have the right mental approach.

“We are getting caught up at the minute and teams like Wakefield will sniff blood,” the 33-year-old back-rower said. “That makes it very dangerous and they have got some very skilful players in there. They have got some grafters as well and they can turn any game into a dogfight.

“We are going to have to be very good. The only saving grace is it’s quite a big turnaround for us – eight days – so we can get a few niggles sorted out and we can get our heads around what went on last Saturday.

“We weren’t good enough, we were far too poor, but credit to Wigan. They bounced back from a big defeat the week before and showed a better attitude than we did.”

The 27-12 loss to Wigan was Jones-Buchanan’s 350th career appearance. He said: “That never even came into my mind, I just wanted to go out there and contribute to a team that’s working hard, but not quite on form at the minute. We have dropped off, but the season’s all about peaks and troughs and it’s how we deal with that and how we come out of it.

“I don’t think it’s a massive thing we need to deal with, it’s just lots of little adjustments and lots of practices we need to be better at during the week. If we do that, it will manifest itself in a winning performance at the weekend.”

Jones-Buchanan is hopeful of featuring at Wakefield, despite struggling with a hamstring problem which has caused him to miss eight of the last 10 games.

He returned against Wigan, but was set for a scan to attempt to get to the root of the problem this week.

He said: “Fitness-wise, I was fine. That’s probably one of my strengths and in the second half in particular I felt really comfortable. It was pretty tough the first little bit and my leg, unfortunately, isn’t like it was when I was 18.

“But that’s just part of the trials and tribulations you go through as you get a little bit older. I’ve got to be smart this week and try and get myself ready for Sunday.

“I’ve just got to crack on and keep working hard. It’s certainly not 100 per cent, but I’m not a million miles off. It’s just a bit of a flat tyre at the moment, but I’m sure it’ll come right one week and then I’ll never look back.”