Leeds boss Rohan Smith ‘not looking to replace’ outgoing hooker Kruise Leeming

Leeds boss Rohan Smith ‘not looking to replace’ outgoing hooker Kruise Leeming

Leeds head coach Rohan Smith is adamant he will not rush into seeking a replacement for departing hooker Kruise Leeming.

Leeming, who captained the club in the 2022 Grand Final, handed in a shock transfer request last week prior to the Betfred Super League defeat at Castleford.

But Smith is preparing to put his faith in 21-year-old Jarrod O’Connor, who has been one of the stand-out performers in the Rhinos’ patchy start to the new campaign.

Hull FC v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – MKM Stadium
Kruise Leeming is looking to finish the season in Australia’s NRL (Richard Sellers/PA)

“At this point we are not looking to replace – 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.”

The Rhinos will look to bounce back from Friday’s defeat at Castleford when they face unbeaten Catalans Dragons at Headingley on Saturday.

Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors – Betfred Super League – Headingley Stadium
Corey Johnson, pictured, is another option for Leeds boss Rohan Smith (Will Matthews/PA)

Another option for Smith is Corey Johnson, who has shrugged off a back injury and impressed while on loan with Championship side Bradford.

Leeming’s decision to end his three-year stay at Leeds clearly came as a surprise to Smith, and the 27-year-old is reportedly on the verge of agreeing a deal to finish the season in Australia’s NRL.

“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.”