Jamie Jones-Buchanan sees improvements in performance but “26-0 is never ever going to be good enough for Leeds Rhinos”

Losing “26-0 is never ever going to be good enough for Leeds” according to interim coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan, but the Leeds legend did see some improvement in his side that he believes he can build on and begin the journey towards “dynasties” of the future with small steps in the present.

Nonetheless, it was a disappointing result for the seven-time Super League Champion to swallow. Yes, Leeds played well but were unable to score.

“It’s a tough result,” Buchanan said after the game, “I’ve been involved in sport from being four years old and I could never get my head round teachers and coaches who talked about performance. It was all about the win for me but this week I got it. I was desperate for it or certainly a response.

“In recent weeks some lads have looked dejected, spiritually dead and you wonder where the energy is going to come from.

“26-0 is never ever going to be good enough for Leeds Rhinos, but I feel some of the building blocks we wanted to put in place for the next two weeks and starting a season were there and I was encouraged by some of what I saw.”

Encouraging signs then for Leeds, but many fans may be distracted by the big 0 next to their name at fulltime. Leeds boast the worst offence in the league with 16 tries in seven league fixtures and Buchanan acknowledged this after the game: “We’ve not scored nearly enough points when you talk about Rhinos DNA but we moved the ball and we asked some question but when we got to the three-quarters we didn’t have enough punch or speed.

“We were overplaying and just not patient enough to build a game but we will get there as part of the incremental steps which are a few weeks down the line.”

As Buchanan looks ahead to the future, he also noted the importance of games like tonight in the development of young players with Leeds fielding a number of them tonight: “Liam Tindall, Jarrod O’Connor, young Muizz Mustapha, Morgan Gannon who’s going to be a superstar. Players like Morgan are sometimes a victim of their own success too good too young and it’s our job to manage that but he’s a real smart, level headed player and young Max Simpson I’m really excited about what he can do and these moments build fortitude and resilience, I’ve been through it myself and on the other side we’ll look back in years to come on tonight and go ‘it was all part of the learning experience.'”

Out of the Challenge Cup, Leeds have 13 days until their next game which sees them take on Huddersfield. As Buchanan looks to improve the side in the present, he’s keen to make the next two weeks count: “We’re going to make the most of it. The worrying part going into it was are the lads going to buy into it, are we going to have some energy, some commitment and what I’ve seen tonight and some of the conversations going on, I absolutely believe we will. We’ll make some big strides I’m sure.

“When we start bringing some boys back in and keeping them together we’ll start moving forward.”

Speaking of those small improvement that can be achieved on the training field, Buchanan commended second-row James Bentley for bringing more control to his game: “We’ve got to nail down that discipline with guys like James Bentley. I’ve been into him a lot because he’s got a lot to give and I love his application, he’s really useful to have in the middle but his discipline is horrendous but I thought he was more controlled tonight and there’s a few more little improvements from players that I’ve asked ‘just sort that out’ and they’ve done it.”

Bentley went off for a HIA assessment in the second-half but Buchanan confirmed that he had passed it but was struggling with his neck. There were also worries over Mikolaj Oledzki earlier in the game but Buchanan praised his front-rower for playing on: “He played hurt. That’s important, to be able to get up off the deck is what I need from characters. Jack Walker was struggling and he stayed out there. That is commitment. Once they start believing they can play with a small tear or a hairline fracture that’s what it takes to win big games.

“We’ve got a few knocks but we have smart medical people who will look after them.”

With three quarters left of the season, Buchanan refused to be beaten but acknowledged there’s a lot of work to do but that the lessons learnt now could lead to another dynasty in five or six years: “I know what this group can do in half a season, a quarter of a season. We’re not going to set ourselves on fire yet. It’s important we don’t panic and we hold our nerve. There’s loads we need to fix up.

“I’m fed up of talking about culture here. Culture is all about people occupying the building so what we need to do is start compounding some behaviours, some values that Morgan Gannon and some of those young blokes can hold and preserve and in five or six years time they’ll be having those dynasties where they’re competing in finals and talking about ‘it’s back at the Rhinos.’

“It’s alright talking about commitment when you’re going up to collect a Grand Final ring but it’s moments like that now that you value.”

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