I never get bored of winning and never will – JJB

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott
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SUPER powers. Evangelicalism. Formula 1. Bullies. The failings of life’s dimensions.... just some of the topics of discussion for Leeds Rhinos’ forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

You know when you interview the England international there will be little chance of monosyllabic answers or colourless responses.

It should be no surprise. Another entry on that earlier list could be the fact he now writes his own column in a rugby league magazine so he is fully aware of what life is like as an interviewer; Jones-Buchanan knows the dance, as they say.

Therefore, there are no predictable quotes elicited when talking about champions Leeds’s qualifying play-off at Warrington Wolves this afternoon. Refreshingly, it is all rather eclectic.

On the subject of starting from a final position of third rather than fifth – from where they have won the title for the last two successive titles? “I always view the 27 rounds as like qualifying in Formula 1,” says the 32-year-old.

“People who finish in pole position – Huddersfield – get a pat on the back and deserve the trophy but at the end of the day now it’s all about the race. We start in third – it’s better than fifth – but we’re under no illusions there’s going to be hard work ahead.”

Having won six Grand Finals for Leeds, his hometown and the most successful club of the Super League era, does this time of year still hold the same appeal; essentially, does he ever get tired of such consistent glory?

“I went down to watch the Challenge Cup final last month having played in it for the last three years,” offered Jones-Buchanan. “While I enjoyed it from that (supporter) angle it was heartbreaking not being on the pitch.

“Someone once said for greatnesses you’ve got to have opportunities and to make the most of them. If you’re not in finals it’s heart-wrenching when you think about the amount of effort we put in each working week.

“Obviously we can’t win everything. But the first thing I thought about when I came in from the Wigan match last Thursday was I never get bored of winning. And I never, ever will.

“When you win trophies it’s a bit of a long-lasting thing too as I get to take that trophy around schools, churches, amateur rugby clubs... and see the difference it makes to young kids.”

A mention there of churches. Is it right he has become religious in recent years? “We don’t call it religious in terms of ticking boxes, ceremony and all that carry on,” he explained. “My story is a bit like Jason Robinson and Va’aiga Tuigamala. (Ex-Leeds second-row) Ali Lauitiiti came over to England and he’s a Christian.

“I asked him about it and he took me along to church. It was about 2006. It’s been a big change in my life. I’m part of an Evangelical church in Beeston.

“It’s just all about what’s in the Bible which, if you sit down and read it, is a million miles away from what society thinks it is.

“I go around different churches giving my own witness and testimony. I was in Kirkby in Liverpool two or three weeks ago and I always take the trophy with me.

“I talk about my career in rugby league and draw some parallels between the journey and the hardship of being a rugby league player as some of the hardships of being a Christian in the Bible.”

When he’s addressing those congregations, speaking to those people about his life, does he have to pinch himself that he is now in such a situation, such a departure from his former life?

“Absolutely,” chortled Jones-Buchanan. “Sat here now taking to you guys I pinch myself. I’m just a young lad from Bramley who just enjoyed playing sport.

“I wasn’t even bothered about rugby. I only got into that as my next door neighbour made me play as he was the biggest kid in the street.

“When I look back and think how have I ended up here, winning the Grand Final trophy and stood in a church, I have to think ‘wow’. But that’s what’s fantastic about life. I love people and like to learn from everyone.

“Everybody’s like a hero to me like on the TV show Heroes. Every human has a lesson to teach someone else. All have different superpowers and every human has one they’re very good at.”

And where does he find all the energy – Jones Buchanan also has four children and famously keeps his own hens.

“Energy comes from enthusiasm and one of my biggest moans about the dimensions of this life is time and energy is limited; you can’t be in two places at once and you have a limited amount of energy,” he said.

“Now, the next learning curve for me is how to best divide that energy as when you’ve got four kids, involved with the RL foundation at Leeds, governor at a school, writing columns and on the radio there’s only so much you can do before you start burning out.”

And, when it comes to the rugby, are Warrington more ready now to win a first Grand Final having played in their first against Leeds last season.

“I think so,” he said. “They’ve got big game experience, won Challenge Cup finals, got a fantastic coach and have a great team.

“It’s a massive game but if we are to win the Grand Final we have to play against and beat the best.”

As Warrington will, no doubt, be reminded of themselves when they encounter this tireless forward once more today.

dave.craven@ypn.co.uk