When Jamie Jones-Buchanan was appointed as interim Head Coach at Leeds Rhinos, some Leeds fans had reservations.
An inspiration on the field and a certified Leeds legend as well as a Super League legend having won seven Grand Finals, some Rhinos supporters still felt he didn’t have what it took to take the team forward after a dismal start to the season – how wrong they were.
Under Buchanan, Leeds have enjoyed a steady improvement especially over the last four games in which they’ve only lost once against some of the league’s form teams such as Huddersfield, Hull KR and Castleford.
The Rhinos have won the last two games and have climbed to ninth in the table. They are clearly much more defensively resolute and appear to have more character. Leeds fans can thank Buchanan for this step in the right direction and behind the scenes footage released by the Rhinos has shed some light on how he has masterminded the change in culture at the club.
Speaking to his squad after their shock win over Hull KR on Friday as captured in Leeds’ brilliant Behind the Game feature on YouTube, Buchanan spoke about lots of simple things like effort and teamwork. They may seem like givens, but this shift in the Rhinos ethos has seemingly underpinned their resurgence in recent weeks.
“That’s what happens when you go out there and do it for each other, when you’re selfless, when you work hard,” Buchanan said to his squad after the game, “You’ve got five days off – how good does that feel now? How good is it going to feel when you come back and you’ve got a new coach and a new horizon and a coach who absolutely buys into those ideals you’ve worked for over the last five weeks.”
He also reminded them that a number of players are set to return with Richie Myler and Tom Holroyd being potential returnees for the game against Salford in two weeks.
However, he was also keen to thank the youngsters who have stepped up in recent games such as Jack Sinfield and Max Simpson: “We’ve got an army of players to come back as well but it doesn’t matter how old you are, how experienced you are when you’re willing to tip in and work hard like you have done boys so I want to thank everyone who’s bought into it.
“It’s been difficult, it’s not been easy but you’ve bought in, you’ve all tipped in and now you know what it feels like when you do it together.”
Inspiring words from Buchanan then and words that will be echoed by new coach Rohan Smith when he arrives at the club this week. Perhaps his arrival coupled with the values instilled by Buchanan could catalyse a superb second half of the season at Headingley.
You can watch the full Behind the Game video here: