Kruise Leeming: All players will have to adapt to the new disciplinary clampdown

THE GAME is changing and everyone has to adapt to that.

By Kruise Leeming
Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 8:20 am
Off: Rhinos forward James Bentley's debut lasted just 16 minutes before he was sent off against Warrington. Picture: Tony Johnson
Off: Rhinos forward James Bentley's debut lasted just 16 minutes before he was sent off against Warrington. Picture: Tony Johnson

This season we’ve seen a big clampdown on high shots and a lot of players sent-off or sin-binned in Super League, the Championship and Challenge Cup. But the referees are under a lot of pressure to protect us, the players and that’s a good thing.

Let’s be honest, the rules haven’t changed – we are not being penalised for something that wasn’t a penalty before.

If there’s a high shot or you take somebody out late, it would have been a penalty anyway.

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Debut: Aidan Sezer made his Super League debut for Leeds in the home defeat by Warrington. Picture: Tony Johnson

It’s just the repercussions now are harsher than they have been.

We would never try and go out to late tackle somebody or hit someone with a high shot, so we don’t have to change anything we are doing.

But we know if we get it wrong the penalties are greater and the reason for that is to protect us.

Some spectators might see it as the game getting a little bit softer, but there’s a lot of science now looking into head knocks and the impact it can have on players.

Brave effort: Rhyse Martin played against Wolves despite the sudden death of his father in the lead up to the match. Picture: Tony Johnson

We all know of people who have had to retire or whose quality of life has been affected after rugby league.

Nobody wants that so something had to change and I don’t blame the RFL for what they are doing.

It will take some adjusting, but it’s not like they’ve brought in a new rule so if you tackle with your right shoulder you’re going to get sin-binned.

That would be different, it would mean you’d have to completely change the way you go into tackles, but all they are saying is ‘don’t do something you shouldn’t be doing anyway and if you do, we’ll take a dim view’.

I was proud and honoured to lead the team out for the first time in a Super League game last Saturday.

The result against Warrington wasn’t what we wanted, but it’s something I will always remember.

It was an emotional week, with Rhyse Martin losing his father suddenly ahead of the game.

Rhyse is a popular member of our squad and it was an awful thing to happen.

It probably makes it even harder being so far away from home and family, but we are brothers, we are all hurting with him and we will do whatever we can to support him.

The way he has handled it is incredible and the performance he put in last weekend typifies how he is as a bloke, as well as a player.

Nobody would have blamed him if he hadn’t trained or played last week, but he put his hand up and then to go and play like he did, it was a massive effort.

Straight away, he said he wanted to play and put the effort in for the boys and that shows what type of character he is.

We wanted to go out and do Rhyse justice and with Matt Prior making his 300th career appearance and David Fusitu’a, Aidan Sezer and James Bentley all on debut, there was a lot of motivation.

It was desperately disappointing not to get the win to start our Super League season, but I think we did play really well.

We tried really hard and there was a bit of a different feeling out there.

We felt like a different animal on Saturday and the crowd were massively behind us, for which I’d like to say a big thank you.

If he can keep playing like that, with the same desire and determination and tidy up a few things, we’ll have a good season.

It goes without saying Wigan away is a tough game, but I think the effort we showed last week and the desire will stand us in good stead on Friday.

It is a big game, on Sky this time and everyone can’t wait to get out there and right some wrongs.

We have watched the video of the Warrington match and even though we had a sending-off, a sin-binning and some injuries, we could have quite easily won that game with 11 or 12 men.

The fact we didn’t, hurts and we need to get the two points this week, so we’re looking forward to Wigan.

We had a good track record there last year and we’re looking to win.