AS A BUDDING television presenter, Leeds Rhinos forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan had more reason than most to be pleased at meeting Chris Evans for the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth-round draw.
The ex-England international was in London today as a guest on BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans Breakfast Show to provide live reaction to the draw which saw Leeds pitted at Super League rivals Widnes Vikings.
It was a great chance for Jones-Buchanan, who co-presents Rugby AM in his spare time, to gain a few tips from a broadcasting giant.
He told the YEP: “I did learn plenty – mainly that I’ve got a heck of a lot still to learn!
“It was great to meet him and, once I knew I was doing it, I had so many requests from people to get mentions on the radio.
“The main thing, though, was getting such a big opportunity in front of an audience of millions to talk about rugby league and this great competition.
“I had a chat with him (Evans) off air and he told us he bumped into Kev Sinfield doing the London Marathon on Sunday.
“And he’s obviously a Warrington fan, too, as he knows (Wolves owner) Simon Moran, so he was chatting with Josh Charnley about that.”
Evans selected the home balls and the way teams were drawn by sports presenter Vassos Alexander with plenty of intriguing ties emerging.
In-form Championship team Featherstone Rovers host holders Hull FC which – 35 years on – will bring back memories of Featherstone’s famous 1983 Wembley win over the Black and Whites.
Last season’s League Leaders Shield winners Castleford Tigers host current leaders St Helens while Wakefield Trinity also face Super League opposition when they head to struggling Huddersfield Giants.
Ambitious Championship side Toronto Wolfpack were drawn at home to Warrington but will reverse the fixture and play it at Halliwell Jones Stadium, while Whitehaven – the last remaining League 1 club – are rewarded with a trip to France to face Catalans Dragons.
Although Widnes are currently down in ninth, Rhinos have not won there since 2014, losing their last four matches at the Vikings. Jones-Buchanan, 36, admitted: “We do have a terrible record over there and we’ve had some hidings, too, not least earlier this year.
“Funnily enough, though, I called it before we went in for the draw. I just had a feeling we’d get Widnes away. It is a difficult one, but it comes at an interesting period of the season just before Magic Weekend. You have to start hitting your straps around then and, if we are to win the Challenge Cup again, then we have to put our best foot forward.”
All ties will be played over the weekend of May 12-13. Two games will be shown live on BBC One and BBC Two, while Sky Sports will select two fixtures, to be announced in due course.
2018 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth-round draw: Hull KR v Wigan, Castleford Tigers v St Helens, Toronto Wolfpack v Warrington Wolves (venue reversed), Leigh v Salford Red Devils, Featherstone Rovers v Hull FC, Catalans Dragons v Whitehaven, Widnes Vikings v Leeds Rhinos, Huddersfield Giants v Wakefield Trinity.