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Leeds Rhinos star reveals how surprising sport led him to rugby league

Kruise Leeming may not officially be Leeds Rhinos captain in 2023 after Rohan Smith’s decision to go without a skipper in the new season, but Leeming will still be an important leader and as one of Super League’s best number nines he will have a key role in their success.

However, his rugby league journey is like no others. Born in Swaziland, he arrived in England unable to speak English and was introduced to the sport of rugby league late but it is all down to a different sport that he found his way into rugby league.

Leeming revealed all on the Tom’s Talk YouTube channel: “I was born in Swaziland, my mum is fully Swazi and all her family are but my dad’s fully British, brought up in Siddal.

“I came over here when I was three-years-old, didn’t know a word of English. I went to school over here, Siddal Primary and then Brooksbank High School and that’s where I got into rugby because it was a sports college.

“I was a golfer growing up, I used to go and practice down on Siddal rugby pitch and one day the groundsman made me a deal that I came down to practice and sign for Siddal and then he’d let me practice as much as I want.

“To get into it at 11 or 12 is probably later than most of my mates but I started playing and loved it, I loved the team ethos and the changing rooms. I’d always been brought up with individual sports, snooker, golf, badminton and tennis. Rugby wasn’t in my family.”

The next stage of his life would then inform one of his rugby league dreams:

“At Brooksbank we had such a successful rugby league team that we won the national cup three years on the bounce, every time we won it we went to Wembley and watched the Challenge Cup Final. I can remember walking around the field parading at half-time and I just thought, ‘I want to play here one day. I want to win that Challenge Cup’.

“Winning it was surreal, a massive moment that I’d been building up for in my career and then there was no crowd because of the pandemic. My mum couldn’t even come and watch.”

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