VETERAN FORWARD Jamie Jones-Buchanan has pledged to clean up his act as he prepares to return from another ban.
The 35-year-old Leeds Rhinos man has been suspended for one game after each of his last two appearances. He was also banned for two matches in pre-season – following an incident at the end of last year – but insisted his discipline is not getting worse with age.
It is a concern. I don’t want to get suspended, it’s not the right image I want to put across and I certainly don’t want to miss games either, particularly big games against teams like St Helens.Jamie Jones-Buchanan
Rather, he says, the game is changing and he has to adapt to that. Jones-Buchanan was banned for one match for dangerous contact in last month’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final against Featherstone Rovers.
He returned in the Betfred Super League derby with Castleford Tigers, but was suspended again following a shoulder charge on Adam Milner.
“It is a concern,” Jones-Buchanan said of his recent record. “I don’t want to get suspended, it’s not the right image I want to put across and I certainly don’t want to miss games either, particularly big games against teams like St Helens.
“I have played 376 games for Leeds now. I don’t know how many years I’ve got left, but I’d love to play as many as I can. The novelty has never worn off since game one.
“I always hold my hand up and I think I let the game overtake me against Cas. It was a big game for us. People like Danny McGuire [who was banned for foul language to the referee] and I have been in a lot of big games over our carers and we know games quite often manifest themselves into a war, but I think the game has changed and rightly so.
“I think welfare is a lot more stringent and referees are picking up on a lot more bits of play that could potentially turn dangerous. Old stalwarts, who have been involved in battles in years gone by, get picked up a little bit more because old habits die hard.
“The game has changed and I think some of us older ones have failed to change with it. I look back at 2008 at the World Club Challenge at Elland Road, which was a war between Leeds Rhinos and Melbourne Storm in the worst weather you’ve ever seen.
“I remember catching one of their players with a similar shot, only then it was about three times more intense and it was almost celebrated then because it was gladiatorial. But now those sorts of contacts are getting pulled up and rightly so. There’s a lot of evidence about head injuries and we’ve got to make sure we make our sport as safe as we can.”
Jones-Buchanan pointed out: “Another elderly player, Jon Wilkin, got picked up for a crusher against us last week. In my experience now whenever somebody backs into you there’s very few ways out of it without getting yourself in a difficult position.
“If you sit forward you end up crushing the neck and if you sit down you’re putting pressure on the back of the knees. The only way is to get out of it and let go, which in itself when you are somebody who wants to win every battle and win every tackle is very difficult to do, to let go of the tackle and concede it and let them get a quick play the ball.
“But the game’s in a place where that’s what needs to happen now.”
Jones-Buchanan insisted he will be taking more care in future. He said: “The phrase is muscle memory, you practice ways of tackling. I’ll use the sit-back tackle as an example; in the past it was fine to do. I got pulled up with it and the second time I got pulled up for it I pulled out halfway through one, conscious of the fact it was happening and the disciplinary was lenient with it.
“I don’t do it any more because whenever I find myself in those those situations I know I’ve got to let go or I’ve got to find another way.
“The one against Milner was a bit freakish – I didn’t know I had done it until it got flagged up on the Monday. I just thought I had gone in, at full speed you are just putting your body in front and you’re not really aware of what’s gone on.
“But I accept and hold my hand up that it wasn’t good enough. There were better places I could have sighted my shoulder and I’ll have to address that as well.
“They say it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks, but certainly in the short time I’ve got left playing I will be doing my best to work on my technique.
“I’ve got a lot of friends in the Cas team, I like everybody at Cas and I like everybody in rugby league.
“I spend a lot of time and energy trying to promote the game in the best-possible light and I don’t want to come across as somebody who’s a maniac on the pitch and it just out there to hurt people.
“I do let the occasion overtake me sometimes, but that’s just the competitive nature within me.”
Jones-Buchanan is set to return away to Salford Reds tomorrow.
Of that game, he said: “Cas have got themselves out in front, but it’s very tight between the next four. Salford are right in there in the mix.
“They’ve been great all year. They’ve had a few dodgy results from their perspective, but it is a really interesting game this week with us both fighting for second place.
“We’ve got Hull next week so we’ve got two of the top-four in our next two games which is really going to shake it up.”