Following on from the departures of club legends Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow following the club’s 2017 Grand Final victory, Leeds Rhinos may have to prepare for the departure of one of the very last parts of the club’s golden generation.
That is because 36 year old second rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan has admitted that the 2018 campaign may well be his last. He made the revelation following Thursday night’s 20-16 victory over Hull FC explaining, when asked whether he will play on for another season, that “going off tonight and the way I’m feeling, probably not,” further adding, though, that it is a decision to be made in the latter stages of the season. His sterling performance against the East Yorkshireman highlighted his importance to the club as he made more tackles (44) than any other player involved in the match but, as he will be 37 years old come the end of the season, he is aware he can’t go on forever. “Unfortunately the joints and muscles are starting to catch up with me,” he added.
He does, however, believe the Rhinos are well placed to mount a challenge for silverware this season. The club, of course, have form for winning titles when legends depart (see 2015 for Peacock, Sinfield and Leuluai and 2017 for McGuire and Burrow) and, with a new half back pairing showing promising early signs, Jones-Buchanan feels that the club are looking good. Explaining the impact of new signing Richie Myler, he said the former Warrington scrum half “is very much a set piece player,” further explaining that “it’s something Leeds have never been given ten out of ten for.” Indeed, with the guidance of McGuire and Moon in 2017, the Rhinos were highly capable of playing what was in front of them rather than set plays but, with Myler stepping into the void vacated by the club legend, the club now have his structured play on the right to complement Moon’s more unorthodox approach on the left edge.
This Friday sees Leeds head to face Justin Holbrook’s St Helens team, the only Super League outfit with a 100% record thus far in the competition. It promises to be an enthralling encounter but it is one where Saints look like they will have to do without uncompromising forward Alex Walmsley. Following neck and shoulder injuries sustained while attempting a tackle against Warrington on Friday night, the England prop departed the field and, with concussion thrown into the unpleasant mix, the Australian coach isn’t confident about his chances of featuring this week. He explained on Monday that “his neck and shoulder haven’t improved since Friday and that’s a worry.”