FANS’ PLAYER of the year Jimmy Keinhorst says personal gains this season have been outweighed by Leeds Rhinos’ team slump.
Keinhorst played in 27 of Rhinos’ 32 games this year and was elected the club’s most impressive player by supporters.
His 11 touchdowns included one – against St Helens at Langtree Park – which was voted Rhinos’ try of the year by fans, sponsors and players at last week’s awards night.
The German international was arguably Leeds’ most improved player over the course of a year in which they went from treble-winners to a team struggling against relegation.
It was Rhinos’ poorest season for 20 years.
They won only three of their first 19 matches in all competitions and finished ninth in the Super League table, missing out on the play-offs for the first time.
Keinhorst insisted he would have swapped his personal accolades for a better year team-wise.
“On a personal level things went quite well for me,” he said.
“I tried to keep as consistent as I can, but where we ended up in the table has the ultimate bearing on it and how the team are doing.
“The team is more important than myself.
“I will take the positives from it and I think there are a lot of positives to take from it on a personal level.
Hopefully I will take that into next season.”
Of his award from the supporters, Keinhorst added: “It was massive to get that from the fans.
“It really means a lot. Just a word on them – they have been fantastic all season.
“I am not sure another club would have the fans to stick with the team the way they have this year.
“They have turned out home and away and they have been awesome.
“They stick with us and we will will keep trying our best and I am sure we can only move forward.
“Massive thanks go to them.”
Keinhorst is now an established member of the first team squad and can play at centre and in the second-row, but at 26 he feels there is a lot more to come.
“I have to try and keep improving,” said the former Leeds Metropolitan University student player, who bagged a brace of tries in the win over Leigh Centurions last week which secured top spot in the First Utility Qualifiers.
“Pre-season is a long old slog before you get round to playing the games.
“There’s a bit of time there to really put yourself in a good position for next season and I will try and do that.
“I will try and put myself in the best position I can to maintain the spot and keep improving and moving forward and hopefully getting more and more games.”
Keinhorst’s versatility has added to his value in the team and he stressed: “I don’t mind where I play.
“I have enjoyed playing centre.
“I think that is probably more my preferred spot now.
“I am not sure what Brian [coach Brian McDermott] has got planned for next year, but I have enjoyed playing centre this year for the majority of it.”
Rhinos were the last established Super League team to finish playing last year and the first to enter the off-season this time.
They will have an extra month to prepare for the 2017 campaign and Keinhorst admitted: “We know we have a lot of work to do in pre-season.
“Every season is different. Maybe the focus of pre-season might take a different slant.
“We’re not sure yet, but we will go into it with a lot of enthusiasm, wanting to turn things around from how we finished this season and really get ourselves back up where we want to be, at the top of the ladder.”