Leeds Rhinos forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan has revealed he’s “extremely sure” about ending his eight-month layoff at Wigan this Friday.
The forward, who suffered a serious knee injury during the Rhinos’ Challenge Cup semi-final victory against St Helens last July, was 18th man for Friday’s win against Huddersfield, but he could come into the fray for this Friday’s trip to the DW Stadium.
He expressed his delight with his prospective early return, over a month ahead of schedule, and he says he’s looking forward to pulling the Leeds shirt on again.
“I’ve been well ahead of schedule,” he said.
“They said nine months originally and that was the surgeon throwing the gauntlet down to me. I like to beat the dates I’m set and I’m going to beat him. I can’t wait to be back contributing; I’ve passed all the tests.
“I was moaning to the doctors about playing against Huddersfield, but I’m extremely sure about playing against Wigan.
“I’m at least a month ahead of schedule, probably around five or six weeks in front of where I’m going to be.”
His return game comes in the shape of fierce rivals Wigan, not that JJB would ever want to ease himself back in any other way.
“If I had done the old piñata and done the swinging, Wigan away is the last game you’d want to hit.
“But jumping in at the deep end can only be a good thing. I don’t think there is a more intense game in Super League if I’m honest with you.
“Adversity and perseverance are big lessons I’ve learnt on the journey in my career. If I can get through this week at Wigan I can get through anything, I’ll wake up on Saturday a much better man for that experience.”
His involvement in the side will also see him take up an important role as an experienced member of a youthful Leeds Rhinos team. With Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai all gone, it leaves Jones-Buchanan in a position where he must try to replicate their presence.
“We talk about the big three that left last year and preserving the culture they left behind, that doesn’t happen on its own, it’s a paradigm. You’ve got to enforce it, and if you don’t have the same characteristics you’ve got to manufacture it.
“For example, Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield are very much like a Danny McGuire. If you make a mistake the guys will run 40 metres to let you know what you must do better. We’ve not had that with Mags out injured. Myself, Rob, Zak and a few of the others that have been here a while now need to take on that role.”