England boss Shaun Wane explains absence of Leeds Rhinos duo as he talks up Jake Wardle and Ryan Hall
Leeming and Hardaker helped England beat France in Perpignan last October but were conspicous by their absence when Wane named his squad for the first international of 2022.
Illness prevented Leeming from pushing his case in the latest round of Super League fixtures but Wane insisted he left the Rhinos hooker out on form.
The 26-year-old instead has the chance to impress for the All Stars at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
“It’s not illness,” said Wane.
“I rate Kruise very highly and I’ve had a long chat with him on the phone. There are other things in his game that I spoke to Richard Agar about when he was at Leeds and Kruise knows.
“He’s a great kid who wants to get better. He knows if he’s doing the things I need him to do towards the end of the year, he’s got a real good shot of playing in the World Cup.”
Hardaker made his fourth appearance for Leeds in last week’s game against Huddersfield Giants, scoring a late try in the 30-16 defeat.
After leaving Wigan Warriors under a cloud in April, Hardaker has been told to let his rugby do the talking between now and the World Cup.
“He’s doing okay for Leeds but there are certain things I want from a full-back and centre,” said Wane.
“He’s just joined Leeds and just started playing again. He’s had his demons so I just want him to relax and enjoy being at Leeds playing really well knowing that if his form is outstanding towards the end of the year then I’ll bring him back into the squad.”
While Leeming and Hardaker were left disappointed, Huddersfield outside back Jake Wardle is preparing to make his England debut at centre in the absence of Mark Percival, Harry Newman and Reece Lyne.
The 23-year-old has been restricted to six appearances for the Giants this year but he is highly rated by Wane.
“He’s a very good player,” said the England head coach.
“He’s a good centre and a good shape, very athletic. He’s what I like in a centre and is a really good kid.
“I’m really excited about watching him this week. Huddersfield are an outstanding team but playing with a different group of players is going to give him a good lift.”
Hull KR winger Ryan Hall, meanwhile, is in line to make his first appearance since 2018.
The 34-year-old, who has scored a record 35 tries in 38 games for England, is the frontrunner for the left-wing spot at the World Cup.
“I’ve always been a Ryan Hall fan - and he’s still doing it,” said Wane.
“I’m thinking more against Samoa - they have big bodies and we need big bodies to get us off our line out of yardage. He’s a big body and a powerful athlete. If anybody can do it, Ryan can.
“If he plays well in this game and carries on with his form at Hull KR, he’s going to be pushing me to pick him in the World Cup.
“It’s his effort stuff I like, things he doesn’t need to do, things that people might not notice, but I notice. They’re small efforts but they mean a lot to me. That’s why I think he’s a fantastic winger.”
For Wane, it is only a third opportunity to see his players in England colours since taking the reins in February 2020.
The former Wigan Warriors head coach was all set to lead his country into the World Cup last year before Australia and New Zealand forced a 12-month postponement.
With the tournament opener against Samoa now only 123 days away, Wane has a steely focus.
“It changes my preparation,” he said. “I’m a bit sharper and very, very organised.
“I can’t wait for that first game against Samoa. We’ve got a few things to get through before then but it’s a dream for a Wigan lad like me to be coaching your country into a World Cup.
“It can’t come quick enough but my obsession is making sure our players are all playing at their very, very best. We need to be very, very good to do anything in this World Cup.”