Hooker Kruise Leeming finally has a date for his possible Leeds Rhinos debut

WITH every week and month that goes by, Kruise Leeming has been wondering just when and how he will eventually make his Leeds Rhinos debut.

Kruise Leeming. Wakefield Trinity v Huddersfield Giants. BetFred SuperLeague. Belle Vue Stadium. 28 June 2019. Picture Bruce Rollinson

A wretched combination of injury, surgery and setbacks has meant the gifted England Knights hooker has still yet to play in the blue and amber despite arriving from Huddersfield Giants last November.

However, the frustrating wait is finally almost over and that maiden appearance could, ironically, come against his former club when Super League makes its own long-awaited return from shutdown on August 2.

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Leeming initially injured his knee in training in December but hoped to be back on the field within six weeks.

It was discovered in February, though, that the damage was more significant and he would need an operation that would sidelined him for four months.

Covid-19, of course, then brought a halt to rugby league across the country on March 16 but its restart date was at last confirmed yesterday and Leeds are up first against Huddersfield at a venue yet to be decided.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post last night, Leeming said: “The knee’s pretty good now.

“I’m doing everything that is required for me to get back as soon as I can.

“I feel good and feel that I’m nearly there.

“I’m not putting too much pressure on myself as yet – I just want to get myself right – but if I could get back for that opening game it would be great.

“It being Huddersfield it makes it even better; you couldn’t write it really making my debut like that.

“I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully I can be in that game or pushing for the 17-man squad.

Brad Dwyer. Leeds Rhinos v Warrington Wolves. BetFred Super League. Emerald Headingley Stadium. 28 February 2020. Picture Bruce Rollinson

“But the hookers that were playing before, it’s not a given that I’d get back in that squad either, so I’m going to have to work hard,

“Hopefully I’ll get a couple of weeks of full training – rather than being in rehab with the injured group – and I can show my worth to get in that 17-man squad on August second.”

It is true that England scrum-half Richie Myler carved out a niche for himself in the opening rounds, showing his versatility by coming off the bench with some impressive displays when replacing regular No 9 Brad Dwyer.

After a poor opening day defeat against Hull FC, Rhinos had found their groove with a four-game winning run before the pandemic closed the sport down.

Leeming, whose stellar form in recent seasons saw Leeds stump up a transfer fee for his services, has endured a torrid start to his Headingley career but has always tried to remain positive.

The 25-year-old said: “I felt really good before I got injured.

“But if you look at the silver lining – with all this that’s gone on since – I’ve had chance to get myself right, follow a proper programme and not have to rush back.

“If I could choose a way to be injured and be out for 12 weeks it’d be this: without any games being played, without missing out on any Super League and a chance to get myself back right.

“From a selfish point of view, it’s been a blessing for me.

“But from another point of view we were going really well and had just started to get on a roll so it probably came at the wrong time.”

Huddersfield, where Leeming played more than 100 games having come through their academy system, were also in good nick before lockdown having also lost just one of their opening five league fixtures.

Leeming, who was born in Swaziland but raised in Halifax, said: “I played six or seven years at Giants. We turned over some pretty good teams – Saints away, Wigan away – and always seemed to get up for those big games against top slides. I don’t think any top club would ever overlook Huddersfield and we certainly won’t especially the way they started.

“They had a very long pre-season which seems to have helped and, for us and them, the lockdown came at the wrong time.

“We’ll be looking to get back on track with a win and it’ll be a tough game especially with some people having points to prove.

“It could be Alex Mellor’s first game against Giants, too, and it’ll be interesting to see how the sport comes back and what the brand of Super League’s like.”

Leeds were originally scheduled to visit Giants on February 2 but saw that game postponed due to Storm Ciarra before the rearranged date of Tuesday, April 28 was also wiped out by Covid.

A new date was announced in yesterday’s restart details, with other postponed games – Hull KR v Toronto Wolfpack and St Helens v Catalans Dragons – forming a triple-header at one stadium to finally get Super League up and running again.

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