JAMIE JONES-BUCHANAN concedes he was “always fighting” with Ryan Bailey and, perhaps surprisingly, could never beat him in a race.
The pair were colleagues for more than a decade at Leeds Rhinos during which time they won six Grand Finals, three World Club Challenges and the Challenge Cup together in the club’s pack.
However, despite having a year left on his deal, prop Bailey was moved on to Hull KR during the off-season and – if he overcomes an Achilles injury – will ironically make his debut for them against his former team-mates on Sunday.
Second-row Jones-Buchanan, 33, admits that will be a “weird” experience for both, but added: “I think it will probably be like when we used to train together.
“I remember (former Leeds coach) Brian McClennan used to say we were like a couple of puppies – very close, but always fighting.
“We used to get quite aggressive at times. I have never played against Bails before, but he is a great player and it was sad when he left.
“I am one of the players who misses him the most, but he will want a big game against his old club and we have got to watch out, because we know what he can do.
“It will be weird, but I am looking forward to it.”
Bailey, who debuted with Leeds in 2002 and made more than 300 appearances, has had his critics over the years for a lack of discipline and being too hot-tempered at times.
But Jones-Buchanan insisted: “When at his best, he is world-class.
“I remember doing fitness with him and he has an unbelievable engine.
“We used to do five-minute runs up on the track at Leeds Beckett University and fitness is one of my strengths, but I could never beat him.
“He is aggressive, he’s big, fearless, he’s got an offload and he’s even got a kicking game. He’s a very skilful player.”
If he does feature at KC Lightstream Stadium on Sunday, it should be a fascinating battle between Bailey and the likes of Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai.
You could imagine they would try to get under his skin and cause him to blow up like the controversial ex-Great Britain prop has sometimes done before.
However, Jones-Buchanan – who like Bailey hails from Bramley in Leeds – argued otherwise.
“I think he will handle it,” he said. “He’s not a young lad; he is a professional player and he’s played international. He will go out and do whatever job Hull KR want him to do.
“He has got a new group of friends now and we have all played against old team-mates in the past.
“It’s coincidental that his first proper game for Hull KR is against his old club, but we haven’t talked too much about it. We do know he is someone we have to keep an eye on though.”
Jones-Buchanan is hoping to make his own mark after an injury-hit 2014.
“This year I want to get off to a good start, get over the first hurdle and then take it one game at a time,” he said.