Leeds Rhinos: JJB hints that 2018 might not be his final season

Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
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VETERAN FORWARD Jamie Jones-Buchanan has revealed the new season might not be his last as a player.

Jones-Buchanan is the final member of Leeds’ 2004 Super League-winning team – the start of Rhinos’ Golden Generation – to remain on the playing staff.

Leeds Rhinos line up for the team photo at their media day yesterday.

Leeds Rhinos line up for the team photo at their media day yesterday.

This season will be his 19th in Super League, but the 36-year-old, a seven-time Grand Final winner, insists he will not be rushed into making a decision on his future.

“I haven’t decided,” said the former England man, who made his debut in May, 1999.

“I just want to play and take it week by week and just be as good as I can be.

“Any player could potentially have to retire at any point in their career and I am no different, so we’ll see what happens.

“At the end of the day it is about the team and about Brian McDermott and the coaching staff and what they want, so we’ll just see how it goes.”

Rhinos are 13 days away from their opening Betfred Super League fixture at Warrington Wolves on Thursday, February 1.

“I am looking forward to it,” Jones-Buchanan said of the new campaign.

“Everyone keeps banging on about my age, but I keep saying that’s a bit of a myth.

“It doesn’t really matter, I just love the fact I am able to represent Leeds, the team and the town I grew up supporting.

“I just want to keep competing and hopefully give myself some good new stories to tell.”

Meanwhile, Jones-Buchanan has hailed coach McDermott’s decision to appoint Kallum Watkins as Rhinos’ captain for 2018. “It’s brilliant appointment,” Jones-Buchanan said. “One of the things I spoke about last year was how Brad Singleton and Kallum Watkins have matured and grown on the pitch.

“Kallum has always been a world-class player, there’s no doubt about that, but he was renown for being quiet in his early days.

“He has come on unbelievably well and he is a great leader – he has got all the qualities of a leader and given the opportunity he has really risen to the mark. In fact, he has gone above and beyond. He is doing things and saying things within the group that are really positive.

“He has got his leadership group behind him – Stevie Ward and Singleton and myself and Richie Myler, a few of the older boys who are going to support him – and everybody contributes.

“It is a democracy and Kallum has really taken on that mantle. He has been fantastic.”

Jones-Buchanan stressed Watkins has no problem getting his view across, on the pitch or in the changing room.

“He was quiet, but if you give him a stage or a platform, boom – he’s on,” he added.

“Now he’s been given that stage and that window he is very, very good. Sometimes you have to see it to believe it, but he has really surprised me.

“He has always been good anyway, but these last couple of years I think Kallum and Stevie and Brad have really matured into top-class professionals as far as speaking goes.”

Rhinos’ World Club Challenge tie at Melbourne Storm, on Friday, February 16, will be televised live by Sky Sports, the broadcaster has confirmed.

Former Rhinos prop Ryan Bailey has parted company with Betfred Championship outfit Toronto Wolfpack.

A club statement said: “Ryan Bailey, Fuifui Moimoi and Dave Taylor have left Toronto Wolfpack by mutual agreement.

“The club thank the players for their efforts, and wish them well in their future careers.”

The departures are understood to have followed on from an incident on a training camp in Portugal.

Earlier this month Bailey was described by Toronto director of rugby Brian Noble as an “extremely valued member of our playing group” and a “major part of the squad in 2018” after winning a case against UK Anti-Doping.