Jamie Jones-Buchanan wary of Wolves’ hunger to inflict another Challenge Cup shock on Leeds

Leeds haven't won the Challenge Cup in 15 years

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The Independent Online

Jamie Jones-Buchanan admits Leeds will need to match Warrington’s energy and enthusiasm in today’s semi-final if they are to avoid more Challenge Cup misery.

The 33-year-old backrower was part of the Rhinos sides that lost to the Wolves in the 2010 and 2012 finals, two of six defeats in the showpiece since the Headingley club last won the Cup in 1999.

The make-up of the Warrington squad has changed since the last of those victories, with Lance Todd Trophy winners Lee Briers and Brett Hodgson retiring and Garreth Carvell and Adrian Morley moving on to pastures new.

Those departures left them with a relatively inexperienced squad at the start of this season and it showed as they lost six of their first 11 Super League fixtures.

Tony Smith’s side went on to win 10 matches in a row in all competitions following their shock defeat at Bradford in May, including a thumping victory over Leeds which has left the Rhinos in no doubt about what to expect at Langtree Park today.

“I think one of the key ingredients for Warrington is their energy and enthusiasm. What they are missing in experience they’ve certainly replaced with enthusiasm,” said Jones-Buchanan.

“They’re a great offloading side and are one of these teams that can play with structure or can just play off the cuff.

“If you look to break rugby league down into different aspects of a game, Warrington are eight, nine, 10 out of 10 in all of them.

“I think their league form says they’ve been a little bit up and down but when they’ve been at their best this year, they’ve definitely been as good as they have in the past.

“When they’re playing nine or 10 out of 10, which they’re very much allowed to do this weekend, they’re a phenomenal side.

“They’re no strangers to winning Challenge Cups and a lot of their team are still there now. They know what it’s like to feel that and I’m sure they’ll want to try and get that for their group of young players that are coming through. It’ll be a really good challenge  for us.”

One of those youngsters is Gene Ormsby, a 21-year-old winger who made his Wolves debut against Leeds at Headingley Carnegie in February.

He was a try-scorer last Friday as Warrington bounced back from two successive defeats to beat Catalan Dragons 26-24 in the south of France. An under-strength Rhinos side fell to a shock defeat at home to Bradford on the same evening, but Ormsby is not fooled by that result.

“Leeds are a great side and you have to be ready physically and mentally to take them on,” he said. “We’re aware that they rested a few players at the weekend but we won’t be focusing on that.

“We’ll be concentrating on our own game and what we need to do to get the job done correctly,” Ormsby added.

“Being in the semi-final of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup means so much to me. I’m 80 minutes away from playing at one of the best stadiums in the world in my debut year for the Wolves.”

Matty Russell, Micky Higham, Ryan Atkins and Ben Westwood are set to return for Warrington after they sat out the victory over Catalan.

Leeds, who sit two points above fifth-placed Wolves in third spot in Super League, also welcome back a host of star names including Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock, Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins.

Despite their poor recent history in the competition, Leeds coach Brian McDermott is relishing the meeting with Smith’s side.

“We’re very fortunate to be involved in this late stage of this fantastic cup,” he said. “It’s a huge game against a very good team and it will be a great spectacle.

“We’ll have to play well if we’re going to win. We’re going to need a level of performance that a team can only play at four or five times a season.”