Jamie Jones-Buchanan shares excitement on taking charge of Leeds Rhinos

Jamie Jones-Buchanan is excited by the opportunity to take charge of his hometown club for the first time this weekend against Castleford Tigers in the Challenge Cup.

Jones-Buchanan has taken interim charge of the team following the resignation of Richard Agar at the beginning of the week, having been an assistant coach over the past two years at the club where he made over 400 appearances as part of their ‘Golden Generation’.

The 40-year-old will lead the Rhinos out at Headingley in Saturday’s sixth-round knockout tie and Jones-Buchanan says the prospect has hit home.

“I’m one of these dreamers, I’m always imagining how I would do certain things,” he said.

“I’m constantly imagining what team I would pick, who I would put in there, what are some of the out-of-the-box ideas that will give us an edge.

“The experience will be new but there is also a reality to that. This isn’t a dream anymore, it’s a reality. We’ve got to select a team that’s going to compete on the weekend against Castleford.”

Jones-Buchanan was cool on the prospect of taking on the role full-time, saying he was open to the possibility but would happily welcome any appointment that could make Leeds a success.

“I’ll hold the baby until it becomes apparent whether or not I’m the best person to hold it,” he said. “I’ve said before that this has never been about me fulfilling some sort of lifelong goal or ambition.

“I’m here through circumstance. If the club finds somebody better suited to take this club forward, I’ll make them a cup of tea, pull up a chair and carry their bags in.”

On the reaction of the players to Agar stepping down as coach, Jones-Buchanan said: “I’m not inside their minds but there will have been a fair bit of disappointment, and for a few players there might have been a sense of opportunity.

“Collectively it was a really heavy day on Monday. It was difficult for all of us to take. I’m blue and amber through and through, I love Leeds, and the last thing I want to see is players or staff leaving, and especially a head coach.

“I’d be the first to recognise that every coach wants to leave a club a better place than when they came, and Rich Agar did that without a doubt.”

Jones-Buchanan is no stranger to Challenge Cup success and believes it could be relief to switch attention away from the club’s difficult start to the Super League season.

“If there is ever a time that we wanted a slightly different focus, it would be in the Challenge Cup this week,” he said.

“It’s exciting but the external stuff outside the bubble will take a seat for now because we need to focus on ourselves and make sure we’re in the best possible frame of mind and body to compete for it.”

On team news, the club are not yet sure if winger David Fusitu’a will be available to play following a knee issue which saw him miss last week’s defeat at Salford Red Devils.