VETERAN forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan says his decision to play on for Leeds Rhinos after a career-threatening injury last year has paid off.
The six-time Grand Final winner insists this has been one of the most satisfying seasons of his career, despite Rhinos’ fall from grace.
Jones-Buchanan had to watch from the sidelines as Rhinos won the treble in 2015, after he suffered a serious quad injury in the Challenge Cup semi-final victory over St Helens.
There were fears he would not play again. He was out of action from August until March this year, but has featured in all Rhinos’ 24 games since his return.
“When I first did it Kev [Sinfield] was finishing and a few lads were leaving and I had to ask myself whether it was worth me carrying on,” Jones-Buchanan revealed.
“But I persevered with it. One of the biggest lessons I have taken from playing rugby league is perseverance always seems to pay off and you become a better character for it.
“By God’s grace I got back playing and I am chuffed to bits I have, because I have really enjoyed this season, despite the fact we’ve been down at the bottom for most of it.
“We have learned so much.
“In five months’ time we will be starting a new season and all the lessons we’ve learned this season, in blooding these young boys and getting people like Stevie Ward back last week, are invaluable.
“It is going to stand us in good stead next year.”
Rhinos endured a seven-game losing run before finding some form in June and Jones-Buchanan added: “I have learned a lot about myself.
“I have had to step into a few leadership gaps, being an older player, but I have really enjoyed it.
“Winning has never, ever got boring. We have won nine of out of our last 10, but the games have still been tough and scrappy.
“This week we have got Batley and it’s all about the history for me and the fact we haven’t played them for 33 years is quite special.
“I have got a lot of friends who are Batley fans who are really looking forward to it.”
The 35-year-old is under contract for next season and he said: “I have not made any firm decision on what I am going to do post that.
“I will just take it one week at a time. Even pre-2015 I had a lot of injuries - hamstring, torn biceps, calves.
“What I have learned now is I just can’t train as much as I used to do. I used to be all about fitness and extras, I used to go home and do it again.
“That just broke me down. Now I have found a bit of a niche that suits me and my age.
“It is all about what I do in my mind these days.
“That has really benefited me. We will see where we are, but it is not about Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
“It never has been. It is about Leeds Rhinos and I have got to be contributing whenever I’m playing.
“I am not looking beyond 2017 yet, I will see what happens next year.”