Brad O’Neill enjoying combination with Kruise Leeming as young star makes performance admission

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Brad O’Neill believes his combination with fellow hooker Kruise Leeming is helping bring the best out of both players at Wigan Warriors.

21-year-old O’Neill received shirt number nine for the first time ahead of the 2024 season, while former Leeds captain Leeming was an eye-catching addition ahead of Wigan’s title defending campaign.

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The impressive duo have helped the Warriors to the top of the Super League table and within 80 minutes of a spot at Wembley in the Challenge Cup final, with Leeming utilised as an impact interchange so far under head coach Matt Peet.

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Brad O'Neill is relishing his partnership with fellow hooker Kruise LeemingBrad O'Neill is relishing his partnership with fellow hooker Kruise Leeming
Brad O'Neill is relishing his partnership with fellow hooker Kruise Leeming

He has scored five tries for the club in all competitions, including in previous Challenge Cup ties against Sheffield Eagles and Castleford Tigers, while O’Neill leads the way for tackles made at the Cherry and Whites.

“I like it, I feel like it brings the best out of both of us,” O’Neill said of his partnership with Leeming.

“At the start of the game, I feel like I pride myself on my defence first.

“And then when Kruise comes on, their middles are probably slowing down a bit and he comes on and speeds it up.

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“He can make it a bit tougher for them when he’s playing like that.

“He comes on and does his job and it’s working well so far, I enjoy it.

“Kruise is a really good player. I’m excited to see where he goes this year and where the combination can take us as a team as well.”

O’Neill has also enjoyed his time so far with another new recruit in Luke Thompson, who has returned to the form that saw him attract attention from the NRL back in 2020 while with St Helens.

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“I feel like he’s been great for us,” O’Neill continued on Thompson.

“His work rate, his carries, his effort areas, he never switches off and he’s very fit with a great engine.

“He competes in everything and I feel like when you play with him and he’s at your side, you know you can trust him and he’s always going to be there.

“I’ve loved playing with him so far.

“He’s doing those effort areas and that’s why we appreciate him as team-mates, because of all the tough stuff that he does.”

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