Leeds Rhinos: Jones-Bishop ready to fight for his place

Ben Jones-Bishop
Ben Jones-Bishop
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Wakefield Trinity Wildcats had asked to take the 25-year-old flier on a short-term deal and Jones-Bishop confirmed he was given the option to go, but wasn’t prepared to leave without having shown what he can do for Leeds first.

Jones-Bishop was called into the team for the first time this season against Widnes Vikings last Friday and responded with an impressive display which included two tries and a break and final pass to set up another.

“Mac [coach Brian McDermott] asked me what I wanted to do and I wasn’t going anywhere until I had a crack here,” Jones-Bishop stated. “I said I believe in myself and think that given a crack I can hold a shirt down and that’s what I want to try and do.”

Asked if he felt he had a point to prove, he added: “I don’t think so. Mac made the decision that I didn’t start the season and that was tough.

“I thought I had coped pretty well with pre-season and had a good pre-season, but that’s the decision he made for the team.

“I just had to keep working hard and wait for my chance and here we are.”

Jones-Bishop, who scored both Rhinos’ first-half tries, said he had no nerves going into the match. “I was fine,” he said. “Once the game starts it is just another game and I was concentrating on making sure I didn’t make any mistakes and I took my chance when I had it.

“It was good to be back outside Kal [Kallum Watkins] and back in the team. I understand we have competition for places. If you are the bloke that’s missing out it’s tough, but at the end of the day the goal is the team.

“We want to be at Old Trafford at the end of the year and with the quality and the squad we’ve got, we’ve got a good chance of doing that.”

Ryan Hall was rested for last Friday’s game and McDermott will have a big decision to make this week, given Jones-Bishop’s performance against Widnes.

With Joel Moon picking up a hamstring injury, an option against London Broncos this Friday could be to rest the Aussie centre, with Zak Hardaker moving into his place, Jones-Bishop switching to full-back and Hall returing in his regular spot.

Full-back is Jones-Bishop’s preferred role, but he said: “I just want to be playing, that’s what it’s about. I have been sat in the stands for four weeks so I’m just happy to be back on the pitch.

“Zak is putting a claim in to be England’s number one the way he’s going at the minute, so I am just happy to be part of the team.”

Despite the headlines created by his own personal performance, Jones-Bishop said insisted the team effort against Widnes – which maintained Rhinos’ unbeaten run – was more important.

“It was a very tough game,” he said. “The weather played its part and we didn’t really get going in the first half.

“We went in at half-time thinking we hadn’t done enough and we knew it would be a tough second half against the wind.

“We knew we had to come out with a different attitude and we did that. We played some good stuff in the second half.

“We were slightly disappointed with the first half, it was a bit disjointed.

“We knew playing against the wind they would come out and fancy their chances. We had to change our attitude and put more of a performance together.

“We scored some nice tries and most of them came from the big men in the middle.

“They got us over the advantage line and then we put it through the hands and made the right decisions on the end of it.”

Though Jones-Bishop’s brace were both classic winger’s finishes at the corner, prop Ryan Bailey actually ran further for his rare second half touchdown.

That try was enjoyed by the entire team and Jones-Bishop reckons it reflected the all-round quality in Leeds’ squad.

“Everyone has the ability to pass and back up play now,” he said. “Everyone’s expecting someone to make a break, they are anticipating the break and everyone’s pushing through.

“When you have got more numbers pushing through than they’ve got defenders you are more than likely to find the right pass.”

Jones-Bishop had a season-long loan at London – then called Harlequins – in 2010. Of Friday’s clash with his previous club, he said: “They have got a different team to when we beat them in pre-season, but each game we go into we just have to think about us, improve our performance and play for 80 minutes.

“We aren’t getting too far ahead of ourselves. it is just one week at a time.”

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