Yorkshire Juniors

12th September 2019, 10:18 | Leeds

Jamie Jones-Buchanan - Last Man Standing

Jamie Jones-Buchanan - Last Man Standing

Veteran Rugby League writer Dave Hadfield pays tribute to JJB

There has hardly been a moment during Jamie Jones-Buchanan's long career at Leeds when he looked the likeliest candidate to out-last his contemporaries as last man standing.

The colourful second-rower has been clearing his locker at Headingley this week having decided that, at 38, his race is finally run.

As a member of the Rhinos' all-conquering Blue and Gold generation, JJB has proved arguably the most durable of the lot. Rob Burrow has been retired for almost a year.

Kevin Sinfield, the man who, despite their many points of difference, Jamie describes as his best friend in the game, has swapped a track-suit for a business suit.

Danny McGuire has been doing one last lap with Hull KR, whilst the relatively late developing Ryan Hall is striving to establish himself at the Sydney Roosters and the weather-beaten Carl Ablett has announced that he is calling it quits.

Comings and goings are, of course, part of the rhythm of the game. But Leeds are not just losing a player, they are losing a unique personality.

To begin with, there is nobody who looks like him - a cross between an Old Testament prophet and a Pakistani spin-bowler. As the only mixed-race kid in his class at school in West Leeds, he suffered the statutory amount of prejudice and bullying.

He overcame that in the way that generations before him have done - by being infinitely better at sport than his tormentors.

JJB took a slightly different direction; hard as nails in a Leeds shirt, but the game's most affable man as soon as he comes back down the tunnel and returns to the real world.

Those meeting him for the first time often express amazement at the range of his interests. There is his Christian faith, of course, but that is an embarkation point for his boundless curiosity. It is impossible to imagine him being bored in retirement.

He has already hinted at some possible directions and you could call him the quiet, calm voice of sanity amid the mayhem of Rugby AM. He is no clown, but wherever he goes he spreads the joy of the game.

His farewell to it - at least as a player - will give the Headingley crowd the chance to acclaim him once more, when he shares a guard of honour with Ben Westwood - one week his senior - before the match against Warrington.

The other man of similar vintage, Leigh's Mickey Higham, has also declared his intention to hang up his hooking boots, but I seem to recall writing that before.

It also turned out to be nothing more than a brief au revoir for Gareth Ellis at Hull.

One way or another, we might not have seen the last of Messrs Jones-Buchanan and Westwood.