AS ONE of Super League’s most dynamic young players, few could argue with Huddersfield Giants hooker Kruise Leeming earning an England Knights call-up last week yet he has immediately set his sights even higher.
The uncapped 22-year-old was the West Yorkshire club’s sole representative in Paul Anderson’s 25-man international squad, a deserved reward for the strides he has made in recent times.
An exciting dummy-half runner, who can explode into action around the ruck, Leeming has clearly got plenty of talent, something Hull KR will certainly be fully wary of when they arrive at John Smith’s Stadium this evening.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, he said: “It was nice to get in that squad.
“It was something I wanted to do and was one of the aims I set at the start of the season.
“But I want to push for that first-team squad as well. That’s the pinnacle of our sport – playing Test rugby for England.
“It’s good that I’ve got James Roby and Daryl Clark to look up to and hopefully I’ll get chance to train with them as I’m sure I’d learn plenty from them if I did.”
As well as potentially gleaning skills from those two past Man of Steel winners, Leeming has already learned plenty from a former England No 9 – Hull KR captain Shaun Lunt.
The 30-year-old misses tonight’s game – a second in succession – after suffering a horrendous gash to his knee in an accident at home.
“When I made my Giants debut I actually came on for Lunty,” recalled Leeming, about the game against Warrington Wolves in 2013, the year Huddersfield also went on to lift the League Leaders’ Shield.
“He’s a top bloke and he taught me a lot to help me play the way I do now.
“He’s a quality player and real dangerous. We’ve stayed in touch and I still speak to him now a fair bit.
“I’ve seen a picture of that cut and it is awful. I just hope he’s alright and back fit soon.”
However, Lunt moving on to Hull KR, initially on loan in 2015, is arguably one of the reasons Leeming has been able to flourish.
He was the only Giants player to feature in every game last term, a sign of the growing trust coach Rick Stone has placed in him, and if they are to return to those highs of 2013 he will undoubtedly be crucial to it.
Friday’s 28-16 win at Widnes Vikings was only their second victory from the opening five games, but they hope it will be quickly added to this evening.
“We want to be making Grand Finals and be in that top four pushing,” said Leeming, when asked about the squad’s ambitions.
“We’ve been unfortunate that recently we’ve come up against sides in real form – like Wakefield and St Helens – who hadn’t been beaten.
“When you’re playing top sides like that they hurt you if you switch off at all.
“But we didn’t get too downhearted and I think that result at Widnes was a reward for how hard we’d worked.
“That was a reward for the way in which we’ve kept sticking at things.
“When we stick to our game plan and structure we’re not too far off and we’ve got a couple of players coming back into the side soon, including Jordan Turner this week.”
Hull KR are in desperate need of a win, though, after Saturday’s controversial 18-16 defeat at bottom-placed Catalans Dragons left them with just one victory in five outings since earning promotion.
Leeming added: “They are always a tough side to play at their place; that is always a test. I’m sure they’ll be difficult at our place as well and we know we need to perform at our best to get another win.
“In this league if you are five per cent off against anyone you can get beaten.
“They’ll have Tommy Lee in for Lunty. He was at Giants, too, but was just leaving (to London Broncos) when I was coming in so we only spoke a couple of times.
“But he’s a really decent bloke, a solid player and he’ll be just as much a threat as Lunty.
“I’m always trying to get better. Consistency for me is the big one; when the really good players have a bad game they still rate at a seven out of ten.
“When I have a really bad one I can come in at three or four out of ten. I need to improve in that aspect and I’m always looking to do that.
“I’m enjoying my rugby, though, and hopefully we can get back-to-back wins on Thursday,” he added.