Leeds Rhinos: Jonesy rallies Rhinos troops

Jamie Jones-Buchanan
Jamie Jones-Buchanan
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PLAYING UNDER pressure now will make gems of Leeds Rhinos’ youngsters in the future, stalwart Jamie Jones-Buchanan has predicted.

PLAYING UNDER pressure now will make gems of Leeds Rhinos’ youngsters in the future, stalwart Jamie Jones-Buchanan has predicted.

Rhinos’ season is deep in crisis with the defending champions having lost eight of their 10 competitive games so far and sitting second from bottom in First Utility Super League.

Defeat at Salford Red Devils tonight would leave them with a mountain to climb just to qualify for the Super-8s, but Jones-Buchanan insisted: “We’ve got to keep working hard.”

He said: “There’s a metaphor I’m using at the minute about diamonds.

“Diamonds are created under high pressure, in big heat for long periods of time, a hundred miles under the surface. Nobody wants to be down there, experiencing that – it is horrible.

“But when it gets to the surface, it’s the hardest natural substance on the planet.

“The boys have got two choices: we can be destroyed or we can persevere and get to the surface and we’ll be different people for it.”

Rhinos are struggling to cope with a series of injuries, plus the departure of Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai at the end of last season.

“I was here when all the people who are missing now and everyone’s wishing were still here were just starting out,” Jones-Buchanan recalled.

“We have been here before. I realised last year, watching from the sidelines,

the reason why we did so well and won so many trophies is because we persevered during those times when we did it tough.

“This group will do exactly the same. Everybody is happy to swan around, flying high when you’ve got the trophies.

“But I am ready and happy to go down with the ship. I love Leeds, it’s in my heart and I’ve been here through the good times and the dark times.

“That’s sport for you, sport sometimes does get dark and you have to go through cycles.

“This new generation of kids are doing it tough at the minute, but I promise you they will come back to the top a lot quicker than the last group did.”

Salford began round 10 in eighth spot, four points clear of Rhinos. Defeat for Leeds would push them a step closer to the Qualifiers - involving Super League’s bottom four and the leading quarter from the Kingstone Press Championship.

But Jones-Buchanan is not throwing the towel in yet.

“Everybody has written us off and it’s all about Widnes, Warrington and Wigan,” he said.

“We are happy to let them crack on and fight it out.

“I think as a game - looking from the outside as a neutral - that’s what everybody wants.

“Obviously Leeds fans and players like myself would like to see Leeds winning everything every year, but we can keep prodding away and working hard and maybe getting the odd few points to try and work our way into the top-eight and then just see what happens.

“But the saving grace for me is I am fit and well, healthy and still alive - so I can go out [tonight] and do something about it.”