IT HAS been a long time coming but, in his fifth season as a Leeds Rhinos player, Jimmy Keinhorst should finally get to make his Magic Weekend debut on Saturday.
The strong-running centre first appeared for the club in 2012 but, for one reason or another, has never actually featured in the annual roadshow extravaganza.
He is, then, looking forward to facing Wigan Warriors at Newcastle United’s St James’ Stadium more than most.
“It’s true I’ve not been in one yet,” said the player, who turns 26 in July.
“This is my first Magic Weekend. I’ve just played in the Championship one (Summer Bash) last year for Hunslet at Blackpool but never this.
“It always seems to be a successful weekend especially last year bringing it to Newcastle for the first time.
“I’m looking forward to being part of that atmosphere and it’s something to get excited about.
“I’m looking forward to it – the big stadium, nice lush playing surface, the party atmosphere – I can see why some players say it feels like a cup final.”
Leeds are in urgent need of a win given they are marooned at the foot of Super League with just three victories all year. The worst of their 11 defeats came just last Thursday, though, when hammered 52-12 at home by Castleford Tigers, meaning they need a response more than ever.
“It was (the worst); it wasn’t a good one,” conceded Keinhorst.
“It was tough to take and I think response is the right word. We know we’ll be in for a massive challenge against Wigan. They are always a tough test and they’ve beaten us the last three times at Magic.
“So, if we could turn that around and beat them there, that’d be the ideal scenario.”
He is likely to be facing Anthony Gelling, the tall Cook Islander who Wigan boss Shaun Wane recently rated the best centre in Super League.
“I’ve been impressed with him, especially these last couple of seasons,” said Keinhorst, who has scored six tries in 15 games this term. “He’s come on leaps and bounds and is up there with the best in the comp’ at the moment, no doubt. He’s a really strong player, has got an off-load, some good footwork – he’s definitely a threat on their edge and we’ll have to keep tabs on him.”
Keinhorst, meanwhile, is relishing an extended run at centre following Joel Moon’s injury.
He spent much of last season in the back-row but is now back in his original position.
“It’s not been great with the results we’ve had but to play over a consistent period in the same spot has helped me a bit,” admitted Keinhorst who played when Leeds defeated Wigan in last season’s Grand Final.
“I’ve moved about quite a lot in the last few seasons so it’s been good to get this run.
“That final with Wigan seems longer away now than it probably is but we can’t continue to look back.
“We can only look forward to what’s to come this week and concentrate our focus on getting a win versus Wigan.
“We’re really hoping to nail down a performance we can be proud of.”