Like playing a different sport - but Leeds Rhinos' Kruise Leeming reckons he could get used to new half-back role
Moving from hooker to scrum-half was like playing a different sport, Leeds Rhinos’ Kruise Leeming says.
With all Rhinos’ specialist half-backs injured, Leeming took on a new role for last weekend’s defeat at his former club Huddersfield Giants.
It was the first time he has started in the halves and he became the seventh player to feature there for Leeds this season.
Liam Sutcliffe and Luke Gale were Rhinos’ halves for the first two games of the campaign, but since then there has been at least one change every week.
Other combinations used this year are Rhyse Martin and Cameron Smith, Martin and Kyle Eastmond, Richie Myler and Eastmond and Liam Sutcliffe and Leeming last weekend.
Eastmond had been due to partner Sutcliffe against Huddersfield, but the former St Helens and England rugby union man suffered a hamstring problem in the final training session, the day before the game, so Leeming was thrown in at the deep end, with no practice.
With Luke Gale set to return from a broken thumb when Rhinos face Wakefield Trinity in nine days’ time, Leeming will revert to his specialist role - but he insisted he enjoyed the experience.
“It is totally different,” he said.
“When I’ve seen people go from nine to half-back before I’ve thought it’s similar; but it’s a different sport, almost.”
He explained: “You’re not doing half as much as you are at nine, but the things you are doing have a massive impact on the team.
“If you miss a tackle in the middle, someone can clean up for you.
“Miss a tackle out wide it’s a try or at least a dead-set break, but I enjoyed it and it’s something I could get used to, probably.”
What Leeming doesn’t want to become accustomed to is the feeling at the final whistle three days ago.
Leeds led twice, including with six minutes to go, but were pipped 14-13 when Giants’ Lee Gaskell landed a drop goal in the final seconds.
Rhinos beat Huddersfield by a single point twice last year and Leeming admitted to feeling “gutted” after the tables were turned.
It was Rhinos’ fifth successive defeat in league and cup and they have not won since beating Wakefield Trinity in their opening game of the season.
“A lot of effort, again, for nothing,” was Leeming’s summary.
He said: “The character of the lads and the way we are turning up every week is probably one of the only positives we can pull from it.
“Apart from that, we need to start winning.”
Leeds were without 11 players through injury or suspension, but Leeming insisted: “We could have won that game.
“They were at full-strength and we have been competitive, but it’s a cruel sport.
“If you are not winning it feels like you are miles away - you’re probably not as bad when you’re losing or as good when you’re winning as everyone seems to make out, but we have to get some wins.
“If we had won that [last Sunday] it would have been a massive plus.”
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