German international Jimmy Keinhorst is closing in on his Super League debut.
Coach Brian McDermott confirmed Keinhorst – who has been awarded Leeds Rhinos’ No 32 jersey and was 18th man for the defeat at Hull earlier this month – is “not far off” making a first-team appearance after impressing in reserve grade.
Jet-setter Keinhorst scored a hat-trick for Germany against Russia in Heidelberg last Saturday before returning in time for Monday evening’s clash between Rhinos under-20s and St Helens at Headingley Carnegie.
The 21-year-old centre has begun training with Leeds’ senior squad and is taking nothing for granted as he bids to become the first German international to play in Super League.
“It is quite funny seeing my name on the back of a shirt,” he said. “If it comes to it and I get an opportunity, I would love to take my chance, but that would be a bonus for me.
“At the moment I still want to play as much as I can for the under-20s and the more training I can do with the first team the better I’ll be.”
Being 18th man for the game at Hull was a “good experience”, according to Keinhorst, who said: “It was good for me to see what goes on before and during a game.
“I’ve been in for a few training sessions with the first team and it has been going well. I’m just looking to kick on, keep my head down and keep working.
“Being involved gives me a bit of confidence and hopefully I can do what they want from me.
“It has all happened pretty quickly. We are not halfway through the season yet, but I just want to keep working hard and keep improving.”
Keinhorst has been fitting training in alongside studies at Leeds Metropolitan University, where he is reading sports science, but will be able to concentrate fully on rugby now exams are out of the way.
McDermott confirmed he sees Keinhorst as a potential Super League player and he reckons he is a role model for other youngsters coming through the ranks.
“He is not far from the first team,” McDermott said. “The reason for that’s a combination of two things.
“One is on-field performance, he is at a level where he looks better than the players he is playing against in the under-20s.
“But without doubt the area in which he is really making the coaching staff take note is his work rate and desire to improve.
“Jimmy is tearing it up in the gym and he is hungry to learn. He presents himself at training every time we ask him to with the mindset that he wants to learn and improve.
“He is great to coach. Barrie (McDermott) and Chris Plume are working hard with the lower grades, Chris has done a great job with the under-20s and some of them are getting rewards from the effort that he has put in.”
Meanwhile, the RFL’s video review panel have decided Rhinos skipper Kevin Sinfield will face no further action over a tackle on Tommy Makinson which was placed on report during Monday’s loss to St Helens.