New-boy Kruise Leeming has big point to prove at Leeds Rhinos
NEW SIGNING Kruise Leeming says his transfer to Leeds Rhinos was just what he needed – and now he owes it to the club to perform at his best.
The 24-year-old hooker, who was born in Swaziland, will make his first appearance for Leeds when Wakefield Trinity visit Emerald Headingley on Thursday.
He signed a two-year contract last month after seven seasons and more than 120 games with Huddersfield.
“It was a move I think I needed,” Leeming said.
“To get the opportunity to come to the biggest club in Super League, I am just looking to grab the chance with both hands and go on and do my family and the Leeds community proud.
“I am really honoured to have this opportunity.”
The Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge will be Leeds’ last game of a decade during which they won four Super League titles, but were also involved in three relegation battles, all during the last four seasons.
There were signs of Rhinos turning the corner last term, when they climbed to eighth in the table and Leeming still regards Leeds as a powerhouse in the sport.
He said: “They didn’t have the best of seasons [this year], but if you look at the set-up, everything is in place for us to go and win something.
“There’s nothing holding us back, there’s no excuses and I think that’s what makes Leeds a massive club – and obviously the prestige they hold and what they’ve won.
“I think they are the most successful club in the Super League era and every time I walk through the stadium it impresses me.
“I have walked through it five, six or seven times and I still find myself mesmerised by the stadium.
“You look at the gym and the facilities we’ve got, it’s all in one place and the backroom staff and the perks we get, everything is there for us.
“That’s why I regard it as a massive club.”
Leeming’s final match before joining Rhinos was at Headingley in October when he helped England Knights to victory over Jamaica.
“I can’t wait for Boxing Day,” he said.
“I have played here once, for England Knights, when the crowd has been shouting for us as a team.
“It was probably half as full as it’s going to be on Boxing Day.
“Having all the fans shouting and screaming for the blue and amber.
“I think it will be a debut to remember.
“Hopefully I can excel and showcase my skills on that stage.”
Leeming has been awarded squad number nine and is set to start at hooker this week with Brad Dwyer, Rhinos’ other experienced rake, on the bench.
But he insisted he is relishing a fight for his place in the 13 every week.
“I think in professional sport you need it,” he said of competition for the role.
“At Huddersfield we had Adam O’Brien there and he kept me hungry and kept me wanting that spot.
“I think without competition you can go backwards – in all sports you see people win something one year and then they fall off the cliff because they think it’s that easy.
“If you have somebody pushing you all the time to excel, that’s for the best. I’d rather have the competition than it not be there.”
Of the number nine shirt, Leeming added: “Professional sport is really ruthless.
“Somebody could play really well the year before and I could come in and take their spot off them.
“That’s how ruthless it is and I am under no illusions it could happen to me as well.
“I have to uphold my end of the bargain with my performances – I can’t just come in and rest on my laurels with getting the nine shirt because I know how fast things can change.”