Kruise control - Leeming puts Leeds Rhinos first

England Knights hooker Kruise Leeming has more reasons than most for wanting to play well this Sunday, but insists he is treating Leeds Rhinos’ clash with Huddersfield Giants as “just another game”.

Thursday, 30th July 2020, 4:45 pm

If selected, Leeming will make his Rhinos debut against the team he left nine months ago.

He is now fit after a long-term knee injury and stressed: “I am at a new team and I just need to prove to my teammates I have gone there to work hard and do all the right things.”

Leeming said: “I just need to look after my own back garden and everything else will look after itself.

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Kruise Leeming, centre, in training for Sunday's visit of his old club. Picture by Varley Picture Agency.

“I can’t be thinking about who we are playing, it is just another game of rugby for me.

“I am playing it down a bit in my own head, I just want to get my job done and if I get my debut and we get a win I’ll be really happy.”

The first challenge is to get into coach Richard Agar’s 17 as Leeds aim for a fifth successive win on their return from the five-month coronavirus shutdown.

Leeds’ other hooker, Brad Dwyer, was in impressive form before the break and Leeming insisted he won’t be shocked if he has to sit this game out.

Having Kruise Leeming, right, back in training is a boost for Leeds Rhinos. Picture by Varley Picture Agency.

“I am fully fit, but I am just waiting on the team,” he said.

“Obviously the lads were going really well before we split up and I wouldn’t be surprised to be left out - but I also wouldn’t be surprised to be playing.

“I am just getting myself ready as if I am playing and I’ll see what happens.”

Leeming had been due to play in Rhinos’ Boxing Day game against Wakefield Trinity, but was hurt in the final training session before Christmas.

Kruise Leeming hasn't played since England Knights' win agianst Jamaica last October. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

He was initially expected to be out of action for weeks rather than months, but the injury failed to clear-up and he underwent surgery in February.

The surgeon discovered the damage was worse than previously thought and, though the operation went well, Leeming was told to prepare for a 12-16-week layoff.

“From a selfish point of view, it [the shutdown] came at such a good time for me,” Leeming - who has missed five games rather than half a season as predicted - said.

“It’s brilliant to get back in and be working towards a game.

“I feel like I did just before Christmas, before I did the injury - I felt fit, I felt strong and I was just raring to go for a new club.

“Hopefully this time I will get my shot, fingers crossed.”

Of the delayed start to his Leeds career, Leeming admitted: “It is not ideal, it is not great, but it is part and parcel of the sport.

“It is nobody’s fault, it’s just something that happens.

“To go through a full Super League career without an injury, I don’t think it has ever been done.

“You just have to take it as it comes, have a look through a different lens.”

Rhinos returned to training on Monday, July 13, giving them three weeks to prepare for Sunday’s game.

Leeming has been impressed with the way preparations have gone and insisted: “Everything’s good, the lads are competing really hard.

“When we came back our first session was so sharp, it was so good to see.

“Everbody’s kept themselves in good nick and spirits are really high.

“We just need a game now, you can train as much as you want, but we need to play now.”

Giants are third in the table, one place ahead of Rhinos on points difference.

With the season slashed to just 20 rounds, including those already completed, Leeming knows a good start is vital.

He said: “You need every point, it was like that before and it’s like it now.

“These couple of early games you might be able to pick up a couple of wins on the pure fact of teams not hitting the ground running.

“If you can rack up a couple of wins, the Super League is up for grabs.

“There’s teams challenging all over the place so you just need to get a good run of form together.”

Giants started the season well, winning four of their opening five games including a victory away to champions St Helens.

“I think they have been really good,” Leeming conceded.

“Even when I was there, we turned over some good teams and Huddersfield always get up for Leeds away.

“It is a massive game for them, it’s a derby so they will be up for it.

“It will be a tough game and if we can get the win we will be very pleased.

“We are not going into it expecting to win, we need to play well and if we get it it’ll be a great win.”

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