EVEN though he has been labelled an OAP by one frank-speaking Leeds Rhinos fan, Jamie Jones-Buchanan insists there is plenty of life left in his career after a succession of recent injury problems.
The England second-row will tomorrow lend his experience to the club’s Challenge Cup pursuit once more when they face Warrington Wolves for a place at Wembley.
He is only three games into his return after a calf problem which, frustratingly, he picked up in his first match back after missing two months with a torn bicep.
Asked if he ever thought his career was in jeopardy – Jones-Buchanan also tore a calf in pre-season training after knee surgery – he said: “I didn’t worry as much as some of the fans did.
“I was at a game at (former amateur club) Stanningley a few weeks back and an old fella leaned over my shoulder and said ‘It’s about time you started collecting your pension lad.’
“I remember thinking when you’re 25 and get injured you’re unlucky aren‘t you?
“But when you’re 32 people start saying is he getting a bit old?
“But they were all just new injuries. It is really important to start to look after yourself.
“I love to train every day and do as much as I can but have to realise you can’t do that as you get older. You have to make sure you’re eating the right things, drinking the right thing, getting the ice baths…”
On the supporter who offered him that advice, Jones-Buchanan added: “I just laughed.
“I love banter and I don’t think anyone in rugby league means any ill will, especially when they’re Leeds fans.
“It made me more determined to get back and prove him wrong. I’ve always been one to prove people wrong.
“I don’t know him. I’ve seen him around though. He was with a group of fellas, some of whom have been really supportive, but everyone was laughing.”
England duo Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins are recalled to the squad that lost at home to Bradford Bulls a week ago while captain Kevin Sinfield (ban) is back. Jamie Peacock, Jamie Moon and Carl Ablett have also shrugged off knocks along with Stevie Ward, but Ben Jones-Bishop (knee) and Mitch Achurch (knee) are out.
Brad Singleton, Robbie Ward, Luke Briscoe and Elliot Minchella make way, too.