Leeds Rhinos: New film’s driven JJB to tell more RL stories

Leeds Rhinos chief exec' Gary Hetherington, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, director Lee Hicken, Kevin Sinfield and Alex Simmons at the premiere of 'As Good As It Gets?'. PIC:  James Hardisty
Leeds Rhinos chief exec' Gary Hetherington, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, director Lee Hicken, Kevin Sinfield and Alex Simmons at the premiere of 'As Good As It Gets?'. PIC: James Hardisty
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AFTER A WEEK of Hollywood-style glitz, Jamie Jones-Buchanan will be back to his day job today when Leeds Rhinos play host to Warrington Wolves.

The veteran forward – the second oldest player in Betfred Super League after Warrington’s Ben Westwood – has added film producer to his growing portfolio of off-field interests.

Danny McGuire and Jamie Peacock celebrate Leeds Rhinos 2015 treble-winning champagne moment. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Danny McGuire and Jamie Peacock celebrate Leeds Rhinos 2015 treble-winning champagne moment. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Already an actor, television and radio pundit and public speaker, 36-year-old Jones-Buchanan was one of the driving forces behind ‘As Good As It Gets?’, a documentary film about Rhinos’ golden generation and 2015 treble triumph which had a red-carpet premiere this week as part of Leeds International Festival.

The film, from media company The City Talking, has been picked up by Amazon Prime and will be available worldwide.

“I am really pleased with it, in fact I am over the moon,” Jones-Buchanan said of the movie, which is narrated by Harry Potter star and Rhinos fan Matthew Lewis.

“I probably underestimated, when we set out, how little you could tell in an hour and a half. I think the story is very acute, it sticks to Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, myself and a few lads who joined the journey a little bit later on.

Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield lifts the trophy after winning the 2015 Super League trophy. PIC: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield lifts the trophy after winning the 2015 Super League trophy. PIC: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

“The thing that stands out to me at the end of it is how many stories weren’t told. At first I looked at it and I started to panic, what’s everybody going to think – especially people like Adam Cuthbertson and Tommy Briscoe?

“There isn’t enough in there about Tommy Briscoe. This weekend Luke Briscoe [Tom’s brother, who plays for Featherstone Rovers] could go on and get a record.

“It’s a record he has already equalled [Martin Offiah’s post-war mark of tries in 15 consecutive games] and Tommy Briscoe has got the most tries scored in a Challenge Cup final, but who’s going to tell their story?

“Who is doing the 45-minute documentary the NFL would do? Nobody is doing it. It’s not a complaint, I just hope this is a bit of a catalyst for people to keep telling the stories of rugby league.

“We all need to tell those stories.

“As far as a group of players who came through and went on a mad journey, you have got the core of that story and I am very, very happy.”

Director Lee Hicken has said his aim “wasn’t to make a rugby league film, it was to make a good film that is about rugby league”.

Rhinos fans have given the movie a warm reception, but Jones-Buchanan hopes it will appeal to a wider audience.

“We will see, the proof is in the pudding,” he said.

“It goes on Amazon next week and when we get the data from that we’ll be able to find out how many people watch it.

“It is just a start, this isn’t going to change the world.

“Hopefully it will raise a few eyebrows and get rugby league back on the map.

“I have been [acting] in Playing the Joker this year and studying a lot about Eddie Waring and events like the Watersplash final, which, for me, are the greatest rugby league stories that have never been told.

“1963 and ‘This Sporting Life’ was the last time we had a proper rugby league film and we wonder why the game isn’t national and isn’t international and isn’t talked about in London like it used to be.

“Hopefully more people will go on and tell stories. Hopefully Wigan will tell a story. I’d love to tell a story about Wigan and how good they were.

“I’d love to tell a story about the British Lions and the legends and people who have represented them who probably don’t get spoken about enough.”

Despite his involvement with the film’s launch at the start of the week, Jones-Buchanan insisted he is fully focused on his playing role tonight.

A win would lift Rhinos a place to fourth in Betfred Super League, but he warned: “Warrington are flying high, they’ve won seven on the bounce. Josh Charnley has come back and has hit world-class form instantly so they will be a massive challenge for us.

“Where we are at currently, we have got a lot of improvement to do. We are a good side, we know we are.

“We have got a lot of good ingredients, but we’ve not been putting them together as well as we should have been recently.

“But if you can’t do it for Warrington at home you’re not going to do it for anything, so we’re really looking forward to it.”