Leeds Rhinos: We’ll cope with home discomforts, insists JJB

Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
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LEEDS RHINOS will cope with an unusual atmosphere at tonight’s Betfred Super League semi-final against Hull, forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan reckons.

Headingley’s famous South Stand has been demolished and tonight’s capacity is limited to 12,500, which will include up to 3,000 travelling Hull fans.

Brian McDermott.

Brian McDermott.

There is a danger that could nullify Leeds’ home advantage, but Jones-Buchanan insisted: “That can’t be an issue.

“We have got to win and we have to put all the external factors to one side and think about what needs to be done on the field.”

The veteran forward stressed: “I have never been one to get too worked up about where we are playing. It is a patch of grass to me. Some of my favourite memories are of playing on Stanningley Park and that didn’t have one stand!

“It won’t really bother me too much. I don’t know what effect it will have on the other players, but Hull have got to play in the same environment.

“It is going to be unusual for them. The South Stand isn’t there, but the people who used to fill it are very vocal and they will be in and around other areas .

“I am sure we will get fantastic support. It will be a different experience, but one we need to win.”

Hull crushed Rhinos 43-24 when the teams met in a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final at Doncaster exactly two months ago.

Jones-Buchanan said lessons have been learned from that shattering experience.

“Certainly the way to start games and build pressure,” he said.

“In semi-finals you need to be doing the little one percenters, that’s what wins you those games.

“We weren’t at the races that day, Hull started better than us, they were a lot stronger than us and they maintained it for the full 80 minutes.

“Lee Radford (Hull’s coach) got his men up for it, but we are up for it now.

“We are prepared, we don’t want to be shocked again and we want to put our best foot forward.

“I think in recent weeks we’ve shown a bit of that, we’ve shown a bit of semi-final, play-off-type football and that’s what we need to take into this game.”

Rhinos’ form has been impressive since half-time of the 38-24 defeat at Castleford Tigers three weeks ago, when they trailed 30-6.

“We were getting heavily defeated at Cas,” Jones-Buchanan recalled.

“We sort of said ‘we are at that stage of the season now where we need to start showing ourselves a few signs’.

“We came out and we were a different team in that second half, we won the second half and since then we’ve conceded two tries in two games.

“It has been spectacular. This group remember what it felt like last year, being in the middle-eights.

“We went through quite a lot on and off the pitch, so to be within 80 minutes of a Grand Final is a fair feat and one the lads are keen to take with two hands.”

But he warned: “We have to get it right, we have to perform.

“It’s all about performance, all about desire.

“It’s not so much about skill and tactics, they are part of it, but it’s what’s in the heart really and the willingness to put yourself on the line and get to where you need to be.

“It’s about making every tackle you need to make and grafting for 80 minutes for the bloke at the side of you.”