VETERAN FORWARD Jamie Jones-Buchanan will go into his 22nd season with Leeds Rhinos determined to prove the doubters wrong.
The 37-year-old has signed a new contract keeping him at the club until the end of next season when he will hang up his boots.
May 7 will mark 20 years since his debut – in a 22-8 home win over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats – and the former Test ace is confident he can still do a job for the team.
But he is aware some critics will believe he has gone on too long and the seven-time Grand Final winner insisted that will form a huge part of his motivation for the new campaign.
He said: “A lot of people doubt me and say why’s someone of his age carrying on playing?
“My big motivation is exactly the same as it has been since I was four, proving the doubters wrong and overcoming any obstacles put in front of me. I believe your character is forged between the years of four and eight. My memories from that age are of making friends through sport – and it being a way of getting back at my enemies.
“I don’t mean that in a malicious way, but it was a good way to prove myself and make friends and to pay back the people who doubted me.
“It’s the same now, people have always doubted me – since I was four years old – and my motivation has always been to prove them wrong.
“I will never be a Rob Burrow with his speed or Danny McGuire with his tries, but my strength has always been my resilience and perseverance.
“When I was 18 I nearly had to finish through injury and here I am, last man standing.
“That’s down to mental determination and that’s still going to be at the front of what I am.”
Jones-Buchanan, who was a teammate of new coach Dave Furner in Rhinos’ historic 2004 Grand Final triumph, played 24 times last season, taking him to 412 in total for the club and 13th place on Leeds’ all-time list of appearances.
He was runner-up to player of the year Richie Myler and stressed he would not be continuing if he wasn’t in the squad on merit.
He said: “I am at the club I have grown up supporting and loving and have given everything to for the past 20 years.
“To keep that going for a 20th year is a real honour and I really appreciate that, but that side of things has to take second place to being good and going out to perform and get back to winning ways and trophy opportunities. You learn a lot in both success and adversity.
“In the last couple of years there’s been a lot of adversity and I want to finish in a successful way. It is fantastic we’ve got a new coach and new players coming in and everything’s fresh.
“We have got some fantastic young players coming through from within and that’s a really big thing.”
Jones-Buchanan, who was in at the first day of pre-season a week ago, is adamant he will not change his mind midway through the year.
“My memories of playing at Headingley are of looking into the old South Stand and the old North Stand,” he said. “That’s changing and the lads I’ve played with and grown up with have changed.
“Some of them are coaching me now! I am very aware that things have to move on.”