Kruise Leeming’s View From The Pitch: Why Leeds Rhinos are the Super League ‘dark horses’

WE HAD a few days off after the Hull KR game but, since we got back to work, training has been intense.

By Kruise Leeming
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 5:58 pm

It was anyway, but the levels have gone up a bit with a new coach coming in.

When that happens, everybody starts with a blank slate and it’s like a new beginning.

Obviously Rohan Smith will have had some feedback from his assistant-coaches Jonesy [Jamie Jones-Buchanan] and Sean Long, but we are all back in the shop window and keen to impress.

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Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith. Picture: Phil Daly/Leeds Rhinos/SWpix.com.

He will have his own idea of our best 17 and we all want to be in it.

I think Rohan will be a good fit for us and he seems very diligent.

He has looked at the game against Hull KR and added how he wants us to play and the way he wants us to defend and we’ve been out on the training field putting things into practice.

It is still early days, we’ve not had much time with him yet, but he’s a good bloke and we are all excited to work with him.

Leeds Rhinos assistant coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

It has given us a new lease of life and him coming in halfway through the season is probably perfect.

I think, even in a normal season, when you go a full year with the same coach, inevitably at some point you reach a stage where things need freshening up.

For us to go a quarter of the season with Rich Agar, a quarter with Jonesy and then half with Rohan will keep everything nice and sharp, which is good in rugby league because, ultimately, we are all doing the same thing day in and day out.

There’s still a long way to go this year and I think we could be a dark horse. We are going to get some players back in the next few weeks and I reckon the second half of the year is going to be exciting for us.

Injured Leeds Rhinos half-back Aidan Sezer. Picture: Tony Johnson.

I don’t want to say we’ve turned a corner though, because I think it’s important to take it week by week.

Saying you’ve turned a corner suggests you’re the finished article and you’ve done all the hard work, but we are heading in the right direction, we are going to improve more and more and I think Rohan’s going to add to that.

He has worked under some fantastic coaches in his career, at some top clubs. The knowledge he has is extensive and I hope he can help me as a player personally, as well as us as a team.

Since Aidan Sezer got injured, people have been asking me if I mind playing in the halves. I have started there the last two games and we’ve won them both; I started at hooker for most of the matches before that and we didn’t win.

I can say for sure, coming off the field after being the starting half and getting a win is a much better feeling than starting at hooker and losing! I am enjoying playing at the moment, wherever it is. Obviously, the last couple of weeks have been more enjoyable and it was nice to go into the Challenge Cup semi-final break on the back of two wins.

It’s always horrible when you lose and then don’t have a game for a week or two but, even in the losses, I have learned a lot about myself, my team and people on the backroom staff.

Jonesy and Longy have had to muck in and that’s when you see people’s true colours, when the chips are down.

Being a captain, you ‘earn your money’ when things aren’t going well.

Nobody needs a captain - or a coach - when it’s plain sailing and you are winning every week.

When you are in a hole, you start to find out about people and I have found out a lot this year about the character we’ve got as a team.

Losing is never enjoyable, but you do learn from it and I think the last few good results have felt a lot better, having been at the lowest ebb. It will be exciting to get back on the field at Salford on Sunday and that game will be a good gauge.

We owe them one from the defeat in March in Rich’s last game and, if we can go there and put in a good performance and get a win, it will show exactly how far we’ve come.

If we go there and get the same result, we’ll know we need to put in a lot more hard work and we are not where we think we are, so it is a good test for us.