INJURED FORWARD Jamie Jones-Buchanan is backing his Leeds Rhinos colleagues to get the job done at Wembley on Saturday.
Jones-Buchanan will miss the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup showpiece against Hull KR after suffering a serious quad injury in last month’s semi-final win over St Helens, but is confident Rhinos will retain the trophy they won in 2014.
“There are a lot of boys in the team who are in their final battles and want to finish on a high,” said the 34-year-old back-rower. “I look around the team and think if everybody can go and be eight or nine out of 10, we will go and do the job.
“That said, Hull KR are a great club, it is the first final for a lot of those boys and they will want to go and get themselves some silverware as well, so it will be a tough game.”
Jones-Buchanan will be involved in the build-up and the big day itself, despite his injury. He added: “Gary Hetherington (Rhinos’ chief executive) has given me a lot of ‘opportunities’ to be a big part of it.
“There’s obviously the marketing side of it and I will be going on the coach with the team. Brian (McDermott, Rhinos’ team coach) has been brilliant in keeping me included in that group.
“Whatever I am doing on the day – even if it’s just carrying water and clapping the lads on – I will do my best to make sure the boys are ready to go and get another win.
“It is great for the city, the schools and the community, the churches, wherever you go if you have got the Challenge Cup. It means a lot to people and it would be great to bring it back again.”
Jones-Buchanan is now “on the mend” following surgery and has targeted a playing return early next season. He said: “I’m feeling good, it is a long path, it could potentially take eight or nine months, but I am going to work hard every day and make sure I am as good as I can be when I get back right.
“This year has been a bit of a write-off with the injuries I’ve had and I’m particularly disappointed because there’s some pretty key people, who mean a lot to me, retiring at the end of the season.
“I have played my last game with Kev (Sinfield), JP (Jamie Peacock) and Kylie (Leuluai) now and I have been on some big journeys with those boys. It is the end of an era and it is hard to get my head around it, but I am a Leeds player and a Leeds supporter and to get back at any stage and contribute in any way will be fantastic.
“I think the overwhelming thing for me has been the support I’ve had. I have had people telling me to be determined and be persistent and to work hard and get back and not let that bit of adversity against St Helens get me down.”