Kruise Leeming’s View From The Pitch: Why All Stars call-up fuels my England World Cup fire

I WAS disappointed not to be picked for the England squad this week, but playing for the All Stars is something I am excited about and looking forward to.

By Kruise Leeming
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 5:51 am

Saturday is another chance for me to represent my mum’s side of the family and my Swaziland heritage and I really enjoyed it last year.

I see it as a massive opportunity. It is a big game to play in and there’s so many deep, embedded feelings and emotions go into this game because people are playing for their families back home, who they haven’t seen for a long time.

I am playing for Swaziland and that’s a side of my family which doesn’t get much recognition, because they aren’t over here.

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Combined Nations All Stars coach, Ellery Hanley. Picture: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com.

My mum’s almost over here on her own so, for her to see me represent the Swazi flag, will fill her with joy and that is a massive achievement for me, making my mum happy.

I played in this game last year and then went on to play for England at the end of the season, against France, so I am definitely not giving up on the World Cup.

I have still very much got my eyes set on an England shirt.

The World Cup is the end goal for me and I will be so disappointed if I don’t end up getting a chance to be in that squad and to help England towards winning it.

Last year's Combined Nations All Stars celebrate their victory over England. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

That’s something I am definitely aiming for and that won’t change. If I can play well on Saturday, it won’t do my chances any harm at all and that is what I’m intending to go out and do.

It’s exciting to be coached for Combined Nations by Ellery Hanley, who is a giant of our game.

For me, there is so much we can talk about rugby-wise but just to sit down and have a coffee with him and learn about his mindset is a fantastic opportunity.

It will be good to ask him about how he trained and what he was thinking during his playing career, what he had achieved at my age, what he still had to do and how he went about things.

Leeds Rhinos captain Kruise Leeming, who missed last week's defeat at Huddersfield through illness, admits his side looked "really flat". Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Just being able to pick his brains about the mental side of the game is, for me, probably even more valuable than the rugby side of it and I can’t wait to do that.

When Big Ellery rings you up and says ‘there’s a spot for you to play in my team’, you don’t say ‘no’.

I was over the moon and I am looking forward to spending the week with him.

It is going to be good to have a change of scenery midway through the season.

I am enjoying playing rugby at the minute and really enjoying it when we win, so this season still feels fresh for me, but it is always good to work with different players and coaches and I am looking forward to that side of things as well.

Also, it is looked at as a higher-profile game than a normal Super League match and I think being nervous and under pressure brings out the best in me, so it is good for me to keep testing myself against the best-possible opposition.

Like most players, I am not a good watcher - because I would much rather be playing - but following a game on Twitter is even worse. I am fully recovered now, but it was really disappointing to miss last week’s match at Huddersfield through illness and I was shocked by the result.

I wasn’t there and I’ve not seen much of the game so I can’t really comment on what went wrong, but it reminded me of the Hull FC fixture, which was the other one I have missed this season.

Both times we came off a good victory and I was really confident we’d win, but the tries against us just kept coming, in the first half anyway. I didn’t see it coming at all but, from what I have heard, we were really flat.

I am not sure what it is, but that seems to happen after a big win.

When everything clicks and we turn it on, the brand we play is amazing to watch, but we need to be more consistent and to be able to back up a really good win with another one.

As I keep saying, we are a work in progress.

It doesn’t happen overnight, but it will come.