‘Handy’ Kruise Leeming given chance to build on impressive NRL debut

James Gordon
Kruise Leeming

Kruise Leeming made his NRL debut at the weekend and has now been named in Justin Holbrook’s midweek squad reveal for the first time.

Leeming, 27, was a late call-up for the Titans 20-18 win over St George-Illawarra Dragons on Sunday, replacing Klese Haas from the previously announced squad.

The former Leeds captain enjoyed a solid opening hit out off the bench, playing 30 minutes, making 37 run metres, 39 passes and 12 tackles. It was his first appearance since playing for the Rhinos against St Helens in March, albeit he only featured for five minutes in that match.

That has led to him now being named in shirt number 14 for the Titans game against Brisbane Broncos this weekend.

NRL clubs announce their walk-on teams in midweek, naming their full 1-17 in order, with any late changes communicated shortly before the match.

Speaking after his debut at the weekend, Leeming said: “Everything has happened really quickly, but it’s best way for me to get into it. Get off the plane, get down here, start training full on and then straight into a game, I couldn’t have asked for anything better, and with a win as well.

“It was unbelievable. The surface is fantastic, the crowd was fantastic, the weather is great. It was a good day for rugby and a good day to make my debut.”

A new Titan

Leeming became the 183rd different player to play for Gold Coast Titans since they joined the NRL in the 2007.

Previous players to have gone from Super League to play for the Titans include Richie Mathers, Joe Greenwood, Kallum Watkins and Dan Sarginson.

Mathers made six appearances in Gold Coast’s first season in 2017, while Watkins made eight appearances in 2019/20 after joining from Leeds.

Sarginson featured five times in between his stints at Wigan, with only Greenwood being a regular – he made 22 appearances in the 2017 campaign, his only season in the NRL, before he returned to Super League with Wigan.

Current Sky Sports presenter Brian Carney did agree a deal to sign for them for their inaugural season, but retired after just one training session.

What does the future hold for Kruise Leeming?

Leeming has expressed a desire to remain in the NRL beyond the end of his current deal to the end of the season.

But he is expected to have no shortage of suitors from Super League, with champions St Helens and Catalans reported to be interested in acquiring his services.

England coach Shaun Wane has also expressed his admiration for the former Huddersfield hooker, who has just the solitary England cap earned in the international against France in October 2021.

In the last two seasons, Leeming has twice played against England for the Combined Nations All Stars side.

His impact on his NRL debut didn’t go unnoticed by fans on social media.

The Bad Life Titans Podcast tweeted: “Pretty solid debut from Kruise Leeming. Some handy runs from dummy half and very solid defence. Think he will be a handy pick-up moving forward.

Leeds fan LoinersView: “Not bad debut for Kruise Leeming today coming off the bench for the Titans in the 2nd half. Certainly didn’t shy away and was noticeable on the pitch.”

Sheriff of the North: “Kruise Leeming looks comfortable after being thrown into a competitive game. Not sure why more NRL teams don’t look at Super League players. Most players that make the switch hold up fairly well.”

Hyper-Thetic-RL Podcast: “This guy just came on in his first NRL game and changed the game for his team. He is going to be a handy NRL hooker.”

MORE: Kruise Leeming makes winning start to life in the NRL