Leeds Rhinos: Keinhorst keen to play big part in challenge

Jimmy Keinhorst.

Jimmy Keinhorst.

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A LOT has happened to Leeds Rhinos’ Jimmy Keinhorst in the last 12 months.

A year ago he was preparing to begin a spell on dual-registration with Hunslet Hawks and was regarded as a specialist centre. Since then he has played 17 first-team games for Leeds – to add to the 16 appearances he made from 2012-2014 – and collected a Grand Final winner’s ring, having provided the pass for the decisive try.

And on top of that he has made the transition from the backs into the pack, playing as a second-row forward. Keinhorst is expected to tick off another first on Sunday evening when Rhinos square up to North Queensland Cowboys in the Dacia World Club Challenge.

It will be the 25-year-old German international’s debut game against NRL opposition and a major step forward for someone who was in the crowd the last time Rhinos won the trophy.

“We took a few injuries in the Widnes game so I am hopeful of getting a spot and playing, and I’m very excited,” Keinhorst said.

“The NRL is a great competition to watch, very fast-flowing games and I’m sure North Queensland will be a tough challenge for us, but that’s what’s exciting about it, testing yourself against the best team from that competition.

“Obviously it makes it difficult with the players who’ve got injured over the past couple of weeks, but it gives other people a chance. All the boys who come in can step up and fill those spots and do a good job for us.”

A good performance on Sunday could help cement Keinhorst’s status as one of coach Brian McDermott’s first-choice squad members. He admitted: “The competition has got even stronger this year. Before we got injuries the competition for places was right up there, as strong as it has ever been, especially in the back-row.

“But there’s players who can play in the middle, so there is space to move people about. I just hope I can push for a place this week and then move on.”

Keinhorst revealed he now regards himself as a forward. He said: “Towards the end of last season I spoke with Mac and it was more that way, rather than centre. Obviously I can fill in there if and when needed. I will play wherever I’m put.

“I enjoy both positions. It was something new last season, but having played a few games I can settle in there and get a few minutes in that position and try and settle in there.”

After losing their opening two First Utility Super League games, Keinhorst reckons Sunday is an opportunity for Rhinos to kick-start their season – and he said the supporters have a part to play.

“I was a fan there watching the one against Manly,” Keinhorst recalled. “The atmosphere that night was awesome and hopefully we can create the same thing on Sunday.

“We are after a good performance each week. For whatever reason, that might not happen so to try and start building some momentum would be good after last week. We want to lay down some markers and hopefully get some consistency going in the league as well.”