TWO PLAYERS at opposite ends of their career are in contention to make their seasonal debut for Leeds Rhinos tomorrow.
Veteran former England back-rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan has been named in Rhinos’ initial squad for the visit of London Broncos.
It is the first time he has featured in Leeds’ 19 since the round-one defeat at Warrington Wolves when he did not play owing to a back problem. Now back in full training, Jones-Buchanan, 37, made his Leeds debut in May, 1999 – almost two years before Thomas Holroyd was born. Holroyd, an 18-year-old England academy prop, played once as a substitute last season and has been called into tomorrow’s squad in place of Brad Singleton.
Forward, Carl Ablett, is also in contention for first game of 2019 following surgery on an ankle two months ago. He was due to start in last Friday’s defeat at Hull, but was withdrawn from the team after the warm-up.
Rhinos are still without captain Kallum Watkins because of bruising on a knee, along with long-term casualties Dom Crosby (knee/ankle) and Stevie Ward (knee).
Jones-Buchanan and Ablett, who had a spell on loan at London early in his career, are the only members of Rhinos’ squad to have played alongside Broncos boss Danny Ward during his time at the club.
Ward is a former Leeds team-mate of coach Dave Furner and director of rugby Kevin Sinfield. Rhinos’ Tom Briscoe is set to make his 300th career appearance. He has played 18 times for England, 147 with Hull and 134 as a Leeds player.
James Cunningham, Kieran Dixon, Nathan Mason, Ryan Morgan, ex-Leeds man Jay Pitts and Greg Richards are all named in London’s 19 after not featuring in the 26-0 defeat at St Helens a week ago. Jake Ogden, Morgan Smith, Mark Ioane and Sadiq Adebiyi drop out.
Leeds Rhinos: from J Walker, T Briscoe, Hurrell, Handley, Lolohea, Myler, Cuthbertson, Parcell, Merrin, Ablett, Dwyer, L Sutcliffe, Ferres, Peteru, Oledzki, Jones-Buchanan, Donaldson, Newman, Holroyd.
London Broncos: from Abdull, Battye, Butler, Cunningham, Davis, Dixon, Fleming, Fozard, Gee, Kear, Lovell, Mason, Morgan, Pelissier, Pitts, Richards, A Walker, Williams, Yates.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 7.45pm.