Hull KR v Leeds Rhinos - England call-up set to bring best out of Kruise Leeming
Club and country are set to benefit following Leeds Rhinos hooker Kruise Leeming’s call into the England training squad.
The England Knights man trained with the full squad at Leeds Beckett University last week.
That puts him in contention to face Combined Nations All Stars in June and for the World Cup which begins six months on Friday.
He reckons being involved with England will boost his Rhinos form – and at the same time knows he has to play well for Leeds to remain in the international picture.
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Leeming was not included when the training squad was initially announced, but got the call from England coach Shaun Wane soon afterwards.
“I was overwhelmed,” he said. “It was a dream of mine and what it has done is give me a bit more confidence and the knowledge I am obviously doing something right.
“Shaun spoke to me about some stuff he is doing and it correlated with my views and my beliefs, so it was a bit of reassurance and a confidence boost that what I am doing is good and to keep going.”
Leeming admitted there is a long way to go before he pulls on an England jumper.
“There’s still a massive obstacle ahead,” he stressed.
“I have not achieved what I want to achieve, which is getting into that World Cup squad and playing against the Aussies and New Zealanders, but at least I am getting talked about and I am one step closer.”
The first target is the mid-season warm-up game, but Leeming faces stiff competition from the likes of Castleford Tigers’ Man of Steel Paul McShane, St Helens veteran James Roby, Daryl Clark at Warrington Wolves and NRL-based Josh Hodgson.
“I am under no illusions,” he said. “I know I am going to have to work even harder than I have been doing to get there and do that, but I am prepared and I am ready and I think it’s my time now.
“I am 25 and if I am going to do it, it’s around about this time. I am not under any pressure to get it done this year, though there is a World Cup at the end of it.
“If I don’t do it this year I don’t think that’s it, I’ve no chance of doing it in the future, but on the flip side I am getting into my prime now, if not in my prime. I am 25, I’m not a young kid any more and I’ve played enough Super League to know what’s going on.
“I am starting for Leeds Rhinos every week so I think it’s time now.”
Leeming reckons being part of the England set up can only help his club form.
“It was very good, very simple, but intense,” he said of last week’s training.
“I enjoyed it, it was good to see some of the players I’ve played against and some I’ve played with for the Knights who I haven’t seen for a while and some of my old team-mates at Huddersfield, Jermaine McGillvary and Matty English.
“It was nice to see everyone again and it was a good get-together, but also it was good-quality training. That’s what you get when you go to England, the level of training and the level of skill in the players goes up, so it was good.”
Potential England honours are an extra incentive for Leeming to play well in Rhinos colours.
Friday's opponents Hull KR have a former Dream Team hooker in ex-Leeds man Matt Parcell and Leeming – who has already been up against McShane and Roby this season – insisted: “We’ve been in a test every week, it is good for me.
“That’s the best thing about Super League – the games are coming thick and fast and you get to keep up the momentum you’ve got if you are playing well or right some wrongs if you’ve had a bad one.”
Rhinos will have some experienced players back from injury at Hull College, Craven Park, as they bid to end a three-match losing run. Young players have impressed in a makeshift team, but Leeming said: “It’s a shame effort doesn’t get you any points.
“We’ve been happy with how we’ve gone in difficult circumstances, but we also thought we could have won those games.
“We were in them right until the end and there were some things we could have done better to win them, but we’ve got some players back this week, hopefully and we’ll be looking to go one better and win against Hull KR.”