JIMMY KEINHORST and Josh Walters are vying to replace Stevie Ward in Leeds Rhinos’ side to face St Helens tonight.
Ward is out of the Super League semi-final after suffering a medial cruciate knee ligament injury late in the last-gasp win over Huddersfield Giants a week ago.
Keinhorst, who has not played since the home loss to St Helens on September 4, is included in Leeds’ initial 19-man squad, alongside Walters, who has played just twice since July. Winger Ash Handley, who scored a hat-trick in both this year’s league wins over St Helens, has also been drafted in.
Saints are likely to be boosted by the return of Man of Steel and Dream Team prop Alex Walmsley, after an ankle injury. Walmsley and Matty Dawson are added to the players on duty in last week’s defeat to Warrington Wolves.
Rhinos finished as league leaders, three points and three places ahead of Saints, who they have beaten in three of four meetings this year.
Despite that, Rhinos boss Brian McDermott described tonight’s opponents as “a team of winners”. He said: “I think the club’s got that in its bones. They’ve got people like Jon Wilkin and James Roby and Alex Walmsley in their ranks and they are a special group who can turn up on game day and come up with a performance from nowhere. That’s something we are aware of.”
But finishing top earned Rhinos home advantage and ensured a final competitive appearance at Headingley for retiring trio Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai.“That’s a big thing,” McDermott said. “There comes a point in time when you have to recognise these fellas are going and it becomes part of your prep’.
Leeds Rhinos: from Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Sinfield, McGuire, Garbutt, Burrow, Singleton, Ablett, Delaney, Cuthbertson, Leuluai, Peacock, Lilley, Keinhorst, Walters, Handley.
St Helens: from Quinlan, Makinson, Percival, Jones, Swift, Turner, Walsh, Amor, Roby, Walmsley, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Greenwood, Wilkin, Savelio, Masoe, Vea, Flanagan, Richards, Dawson.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).