Leeds linked with NRL star amid Kruise Leeming impending departure

Josh McAllister
Kruise Leeming, PA.

Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Wire/PA Images.

Leeds Rhinos have been linked with Wests Tigers half-back Luke Brooks amid the impending departure of hooker Kruise Leeming. 

Leeming, 27, requested a release from his contract at Headingley Stadium earlier last week, with head coach Rohan Smith ruling out the search for an immediate replacement upon his exit.

However, World Wide of Sports have linked the Super League club with half-back Brooks for the 2024 campaign.

The 28-year-old is off-contract at Wests Tigers at the end of the year, with his current side yet to pick up their first win of the NRL season after three rounds.

Leeds playmakers Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer both remain free agents for 2024, with Brooks a potential target according to The Mole.

Brooks has made 192 NRL appearances to date, having made his debut with Wests Tigers back in 2013. He won the Dally M Rookie of the Year in 2014, and later received the Dally M Half-back of the Year in 2018.

Kruise Leeming latest

Head coach Smith insists that he will not be looking to replace Leeming, who is yet to confirm his future after requesting an early release from his contract.

Leeming was not named for the side’s fixture against Castleford last Thursday, going to to lose 14-8 at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle in Round Five.

Despite the impending exit opening room on the salary cap and a potential place in the squad, Smith is preparing to put his faith in 21-year-old Jarrod O’Connor.

“At this point we are not looking to replace [Kruise]. We feel we’re in a good position there with Jarrod O’Connor, who has done a tremendous job,” Smith said.

“I see Jarrod as an 80-minute proposition, he’s got such a good motor and a competitive nature, and he just loves playing for the club.”

Smith also opted to start O’Connor ahead of Leeming in last year’s Super League Grand Final against St Helens at Old Trafford. Leeming would go on to feature from the bench, scoring the side’s first try in the 24-12 defeat.

Another option for the Rhinos is Corey Johnson, who recently returned to action from back surgery for the club’s reserves side.

Leeming’s exit would end a near four-year stint at Headingley Stadium, having arrived from Huddersfield ahead of 2020.

“I haven’t put a lot of thought into the departure – or the potential departure,” Smith added. “As always, we’re on the look-out to strengthen our squad, and we’ll see what happens in the next weeks or months.”

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