Kruise Leeming named new Leeds Rhinos captain: Ash Handley is vice-captain as Matt Prior remains in leadership group

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England hooker Kruise Leeming has been named Leeds Rhinos' captain for 2022, taking over from Matt Prior.

He is Rhinos' third captain in less than a year, following on from Luke Gale and Matt Prior, who took over last summer.

The 26-year-old is the first hooker to captain Leeds in the summer era.

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He joined Rhinos ahead of the 2020 season and has made 40 appearances for the club, being named in the Betfred Super League Dream Team last year.

Rhinos' new captain Kruise Leeming. Picture by Ed Sykes/' new captain Kruise Leeming. Picture by Ed Sykes/
Rhinos' new captain Kruise Leeming. Picture by Ed Sykes/

After skippering Rhinos in a pre-season game against Featherstone Rovers two weeks ago, Leeming told the Yorkshire Evening Post two weeks ago he was ambitious to captain Leeds and felt he was ready for the honour this season.

Speaking after today's (Friday's) announcement, Leeming said: "I am really proud, I have so much passion for the club and our supporters and I am honoured to get the captaincy.

"It is a massive team effort and I am looking forward to doing something special with this group of players.

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"In professional sport, one of the biggest accolades is that your peers think you can do the job.

"We have a great group of leaders and even though I have the C next to my name, it is a collective effort.

"I am going to keep being me, train really hard and care about the club and my own performance.

"It won’t alter my game but it has put a massive smile on my face."

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Explaining his decision, Rhinos coach Richard Agar said: “We are blessed as a team with a number of experienced leaders across our squad.

"Kruise is certainly one of those and I know it means a lot to him to be awarded the captaincy.

"He is a consummate professional who always looks to get the best out of himself and the team.

"I know he will do a tremendous job as captain and I look forward to seeing him lead the team out this season.”

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Winger Ash Handley will be vice-captain with Prior continuing as part of the team's leadership group.

Agar added, "I met with Matt at the end of last season and have continued those conversations.

"He did an outstanding job for us last season as the figurehead of our club, but I know he is keen to lead by example with his efforts on the field and is happy to be part of our leadership group supporting the team in 2022.

“Ash Handley has developed into a key voice in our dressing room and on the field and his partnership as vice captain with Kruise will be a perfect blend between the two.

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"They both epitomise the standards and behaviours we expect from our team.

"I agree with Kruise's comments that we have so many leaders in our dressing room and any successful team is defined by the leadership within the group and the culture of the club.

"We have built a strong foundation on that basis to move forward this season."