THE band is getting back together one last time but Jamie Jones-Buchanan has no desire to be the lead singer.
It is a sign of the former Leeds Rhinos player’s longevity that he celebrates his second testimonial at Emerald Headingley on Sunday.
The game against Bradford Bulls has added importance given it will also now help raise money for the Rob Burrow Fund after Jones-Buchanan’s long-time team-mate revealed last month he has the incurable motor neurone disease.
Furthermore, it was announced on Monday that Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock – fellow members of Rhinos’ ‘golden generation’ who retired from the sport after the club’s treble success in 2015 – will join Jones-Buchanan and Burrow himself on the field for the final stages of the contest.
Former England international Jones-Buchanan, who retired at the end of last season following seven league titles and more than 400 games for his hometown club, did not play in that 2015 Grand Final due to a knee injury.
As professional sportsmen, there’s only so much in life we can control and we can’t control this illness. Neither can Rob.Jamie Jones-Buchanan
On this planned reunion, he admitted: “It’s very nice and quite nostalgic. It’s not that strange to me, probably because I’ve only just finished really in comparison to those boys.
“But to them they have obviously been away for quite a while now. And I know they may sit on the sidelines and reminisce about what it was like when we all played together.
“So to bring a few back, bring some nostalgia and certainly for me, the way I finished my playing career with Kev (in 2015) – the most influential person for me growing up – it’s nice to finish it in this way. It’s in memory of 20 fortunate years I’ve had to represent my hometown club but more important than that it is coming together for Rob who is obviously a brother and a comrade.”
Leeds are hoping to sell-out Headingley but the 38-year-old conceded: “I’m not really bothered about the focus on me.
“I had the best send-off ever when I played Warrington in that final game last year and all the ceremonial stuff that went with that was unbelievable.
“I don’t really want to drag all that back out; I just want this to be a memory of our generation, our team, our group and how rugby league people come together, particularly in terms of adversity. I want it to be as much about Rob as anything else.”
Almost £220,000 has already been raised for father-of-three Burrow, who also spent all his glittering career with Rhinos before retiring in 2017.
Jones-Buchanan admitted he was devastated when hearing the news about his former team-mate’s diagnosis.
He said: “It’s horrendous; it’s as bad as it gets. We sort of had an inkling that there was some issue he had to deal with but when we heard it was motor neurone and saw what it’s done to players in the past it is heartbreaking.
“As professional sportsmen, there’s only so much in life we can control and we can’t control this illness. Neither can Rob.
“But what we can do is be as vocal and compassionate as possible in supporting him and his family. What will happen is another example of how that rugby league fraternity comes out; the response has been overwhelming. Unbelievable.
“It’s only right we use this testimonial to help raise awareness and some money for Rob, to support him and his family. I’ve always said we’ve shared the memories, the experiences, the pain in the past and if me and Kev and JP can come together to help support Rob then it’s fantastic.”