LONDON’S calling and vulnerable Leeds Rhinos need to call on some experience.
Thankfully, for head coach Dave Furner, he has plenty of it to tap into ahead of tonight’s visit from the Broncos.
Former England second-rows Jamie Jones-Buchanan, 37, and Carl Ablett, 33, could both make their first appearances of the season. It will be a timely return if they make it to the field; struggling Leeds have won just one of their six fixtures so far.
Given they have more than 700 games between them in the blue and amber, their knowledge and pedigree could be crucial in steadying the ship.
Led by the charismatic Danny Ward, who won a Grand Final with Rhinos alongside Furner and Jones-Buchanan in 2004, London have still yet to prosper on the road since being promoted. However, they have more wins than big-spending Rhinos, showing their quality by beating both Wakefield Trinity and champions Wigan Warriors at home.
Leeds, meanwhile, slipped to another defeat when falling 34-10 at Hull FC a week ago.
It’s a little bit of that experience we need to make sure we get through those periods or moments in the game.Dave Furner
Ablett was due to feature following ankle surgery but, after the warm-up, decided he was not yet right to play.
Jones-Buchanan has also had injury and illness issues this term and Furner admitted: “At times we’ve missed some of that experience. They’ve had a good week and, hopefully, they pull through but I’ve not finalised the squad yet.
“We’re a team that’s had some really good games and put ourselves in a position to win – or get back in it – and then probably just not nailed those moments.
“Collectively, as a group, we’ve talked about those times and what we need to do.
“It’s not been our starts. We’ve been very positive on our starts. We just need to maintain it and it’s a little bit of that experience we need to make sure we get through those periods or moments in the game.”
Furner added: “Preparation-wise, the team knows London and their strengths; they’re a very committed team.
“They’ve earmarked this game in trying to upset us and we have to make sure we concentrate on what we do; it’s very important we stay in the arm-wrestle.”