'I thought I'd done enough': Leeds Rhinos hooker Kruise Leeming opens up on England omission

Kruise Leeming admits his England omission came as a shock - but the Leeds Rhinos hooker is grateful for the chance to refine his game before the World Cup.

By James OBrien
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 11:49 am
Updated Thursday, 16th June 2022, 9:35 am

The 26-year-old, who made his debut against France last October, was conspicuous by his absence when Shaun Wane named his squad for Saturday's clash with the Combined Nations All Stars.

Leeming was included in Wane's training squad in March but Michael McIlorum and Paul McShane have been preferred for England's first game of 2022.

The Swaziland-born rake will instead line up for the All Stars at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, an opportunity he is relishing regardless of Wane's presence.

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Kruise Leeming missed out on Shaun Wane's latest squad. (Picture: SWPix.com)

"If I'm totally honest, I thought I'd done enough to get in," he told The Yorkshire Post.

"But I know sport is a ruthless business and it was a pleasant reminder of how ruthless it can be.

"He rang me and told me what I need to improve on so that's what I'm going to be working on.

"It could have been worse - it could have been two days out from a World Cup and there's no going back. At least it's given me some motivation over the next few months to get picked at the end of the year.

Kruise Leeming was the man of the match in his last outing against Warrington Wolves. (Picture: SWPix.com)

"But I'm not playing this game to get picked for England; I'm playing this game to represent Swaziland and the All Stars."

Wane is known as a straight-talking coach who leaves his players in doubt about what is required.

Leeming has been told to improve the defensive side of his game, a challenge the Rhinos captain has accepted.

"That's what you want from a coach," said Leeming.

Kruise Leeming on his England debut against France. (Picture: SWPix.com)

"It's black and white; there's no grey area. He says, 'This is what I want from you. You're not giving it to me. This is why you've missed out this time'.

"I've got a lot of respect for Shaun Wane and what he's done in the game.

"I really appreciate him telling me. He's got a job to do as well. He's there to win a World Cup.

"It's nothing personal. Like I say, it's a ruthless business and it's just a reminder.

Kruise Leeming during a training session for Leeds Rhinos. (Picture: SWPix.com)

"There are no hard feelings towards Shaun Wane. He's a forthright coach and that's exactly what I want.

"He told me I'm not miles off. There are just a couple of key things he wants me to fix up on regarding my defence.

"I know I've got some work to do. I've got some time to do that leading up to the World Cup."

Leeming has positive memories of his last visit to the Halliwell Jones Stadium earlier this month when he inspired Leeds to a big win over Warrington Wolves with a man-of-the-match performance.

While he is aiming to boost his World Cup chances by getting the better of McIlorum and McShane, Leeming's main focus is on doing what he does best.

"I've just got to go out there and do my job for the All Stars," said Leeming.

"Hopefully I can come off that field and say I did play better than them. That's what I want to do.

"People remember these games. If you have a bad performance on this stage even though there are 12 games left in the season, it sticks in people's minds. People that don't usually watch rugby will be watching this game because it's England.

"It is crucial to my World Cup hopes but I won't be putting too much pressure on myself. I've been playing good rugby. I just need to go out there and do what I do."