Kruise Leeming interview: Leeds Rhinos' Dream Team star sets sights on World Cup and Super League Grand Final

He reached base camp this year, now Leeds Rhinos’ Kruise Leeming is ready to push on farther towards rugby league’s summit.

By Peter Smith
Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 4:45 am

The 26-year-old hooker was the only Rhinos player chosen for the 2021 Betfred Super League Dream Team, played for Combined Nations in the mid-season international and made his England debut against France in October.

But, looking ahead to what next season might bring, Leeming insisted it is not a case of starting again.

“For me, it is almost like trying to climb a mountain,” Leeming said.

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Kruise Leeming in action for Rhinos against Wigan in September. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“My goals and aspirations are still at the top of that mountain and I am still striving to get there.”

The former Huddersfield Giants rake revealed: “All the way through the off-season I was training and I am still on that upward climb to everything I want to achieve.

“Year on year I am going to try to keep getting better and better; it’s not about kicking on or going again for me, my aspirations will stay the same.

“It is just about getting as high as I possibly can - getting England honours, playing in World Cup finals and Grand Finals, getting Man of Steel and player of the year...

Kruise Leeming made his England debut against France in October. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.

“It is all there for me, I haven’t achieved anywhere near where I want to be yet, so it’s not about trying to emulate what I did last year, it’s about keeping going and getting to the top of that mountain.”

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He reported “There has been a revamp of the backroom staff - new physios and a new head of S and C [strength and conditioning] and add-ins to the coaching staff.

“It has been fantastic, it almost feels like a new place in terms of the professionalism and the way it has been run.

“It was fantastic before and it’s even better now. You walk through the doors and you feel like an elite athlete and are looked after like an elite athlete.

“Ultimately, that - hopefully - should make you play like an elite athlete, so I am really enjoying training.”

Rhinos made a key appointment when Richard Hunwicks rejoined the club as head of performance, having helped Catalans Dragons to the league leaders’ shield in 2021.

“He has been very good,” Leeming said. “He has been very precise and to the point, and that’s what you need.

“He has been a really good signing and I am really impressed.”

Rhinos will have a first opportunity to put training into practice when they play host to Wakefield Trinity in the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge on Sunday.

Leeming has been named in an initial 22-man squad for what will be his Boxing Day debut and admitted: “It will be a different experience for me, but I am looking forward to it. Every game is really important to me. We are out there to do a job and there’s no game where I don’t feel pressure or nerves or I go out and think ‘this doesn’t matter’.

“Every time I pull that Leeds kit on and run out at Headingley I am there to prove a point and to do my job and give the best account of me.”

Playing this weekend means Leeming’s Christmas festivities will be delayed for 24 hours, but he is happy to wait for his turkey. He said: “I’ll have my Christmas Day on Boxing Day.

“You have to make sacrifices in sport and leaving it another day doesn’t make a massive difference to me - I will enjoy it probably a bit more.”

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