THE PROSPECT of playing in the big games – like a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final – kept Leeds Rhinos centre Jimmy Keinhorst going through his injury nightmare, he says.
Keinhorst is set to feature for Rhinos against Hull at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster tomorrow in only his third match after a three-month lay-off.
The German international tore a tendon in a finger during Leeds’ loss at Warrington Wolves in April and, from the start, had his sights set on crucial fixtures at the business end of the campaign.
“When I did it, in round eight, I was looking to see when I could get back,” Keinhorst said.
“I thought I might get back for the Salford game [three weeks ago], but that was a week too early for me.
“Hull was the week after and it was getting towards the end of the regular fixtures and the semi-finals and finals at the end of the season.
“To be back in the mix now is great.
“To have got straight back into the team has been lucky for me and an opportunity I want to take to keep my spot for the rest of the year.
“And hopefully help the team towards something.
“Obviously I am feeling better for playing a couple of games and getting a couple of 80 minutes under my belt since I’ve come back.
“I am looking forward to this weekend and I’m sure it will be a tough, physical challenge.”
Keinhorst was in the thick of the action in his comeback game against Hull, taking a couple of big hits, but producing a match-saving tackle on Mahe Fonua on the final play.
He expects tomorrow to be just as close and hard-fought.
He said: “They are always a tough, physical test.
“They really test the middle, looking for very quick play-the-balls and half the backs seem like forwards with the size of them.
“We will have to be on our game and we’ll need to start the game well as we mean to go on.
“We can’t let a team like Hull get any kind of a roll on. We will have to be ready for that.”
Hull defended superbly in the recent meeting, restricting Rhinos, who won 10-7, to just two tries, so Keinhorst reckons Leeds’ finishing will need to be spot-on.
“They had some good goalline defence and we will have to throw more at them than we did a couple of weeks ago,” he said.
“On the flip side we will be wanting to keep them to limited points as much as we can.
“The team that takes its chances, I think, will win the game.”
Rhinos finished the regular Betfred Super League season with the second-best defence, though three teams scored more points.
Runners-up in the table Leeds conceded six fewer points than third-placed Hull and scored 12 more so there is little to choose between the sides.
“In general our defence has been solid,” Keinhorst said. “That’s something we can hold on to and really build from.
“We are confident in our ability to defend and then turn it around on the other team with our attack.”
Keinhorst has reported no ill-effects from his injury.
He said: “The finger is all right. It’s a bit sore after games, but is doing it’s job. It has held, so it’s all good.”