SUPER LEAGUE’S only German international is hoping to break his duck against Wigan Warriors tonight.
Jimmy Keinhorst has played in Leeds Rhinos’ last 11 games – the best run of his career – but has never featured in a winning team against Wigan.
Rhinos go into tonight’s game two points clear of second-placed Wigan on the First Utility Super-8s table and Keinhorst reckons it would be a perfect time to get off the mark.
“It is always a big game and a big test for us when we play Wigan,” Keinhorst said.
“There will be a great atmosphere at Headingley as well and personally I have never beaten Wigan so it would be good to get one this week.
“Out of two games I have lost them both, so it would be good to get a win.”
Keinhorst wasn’t in the team when Rhinos beat Wigan 26-14 at Headingley in March and the last game before his run in the side began was the 27-12 loss to Shaun Wane’s side at the Magic Weekend three months ago.
Keinhorst was in the centres when Leeds were pipped 26-24 at DW Stadium in July and he recalled: “That was a close one, they usually are between us and Wigan.
“You know you are going to be run until the end of the game.
“We don’t expect anything else [tonight].
“We know it will be a tough test, but hopefully we can nick it this time.
“We are at home, at Headingley, this time and that will be a big factor.”
A Rhinos win would open a four-point gap at the top of the table with just five rounds remaining before the semi-finals.
That makes it a crucial contest in the race for the league leaders’ shield and a place at Old Trafford, but Keinhorst insisted Rhinos aren’t looking that far ahead.
“In terms of the points difference it would be good, but we are just trying to build in the next two league games,” he said.
“It is a massive game and it would be good to put some distance between us, but we aren’t looking too much into league positions at the moment.
“We are more concerned about playing well and getting a win.
“We feel anything else will come with the performance.”
Rhinos have won their last four matches since the defeat at Wigan, including victories against St Helens – in a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final – and Warrington Wolves.
Boss Brian McDermott claimed the opening 20 minutes against Saints two weeks ago was the best this Leeds team has played, but opposite number Tony Smith felt they were even more impressive in the meeting with his Warrington team last Friday.
“It was a good win last week,” Keinhorst reflected.
“We backed up well from a tough game against Saints in the semi-final, so it was good to get that win and hopefully we can kick on.
“We need to maintain it. We will be tested each week and to keep some consistency and winning momentum going will be key.”
Rhinos couldn’t do that last year, when they failed to win after July 25, losing their last six Super League and play-offs ties.
Rhinos’ only wins in the final two months of the campaign last year were in the Challenge Cup and Keinhorst said: “We are going well this year and in both competitions and we want to do our best to keep that going.
“Maybe there was a bit more of an emphasis on the Challenge Cup last year, but we want to do the best we can in each competition.”
Keinhorst is within sight of a second appearance at Wembley.
He was a substitute in the loss to Warrington Wolves three years ago in only his fourth senior game and he admitted: “Obviously it [the Cup final against Hull KR in 15 days’ time] does enter the back of your mind, now we’ve got to the final.
“But I think I’ve just got to focus on these next two league games, keep in the team and it will take care of itself after that.
“It would be massive to play in the final.
“I think I would be very fortunate to have had two Wembley experiences, should it happen, with the limited Super League experience I have.
“It would be awesome to be in the team for that, but I’ll focus on my performances these next two weeks and we’ll see on the back of that.”
Keinhorst was recalled from a dual-registration spell at Hunslet Hawks due to injuries, but so far has kept his place on merit.
He said: “It has been good to get some consistent game time.
“For the first time since I’ve been here I have been able to get a real run of games and that has helped, obviously.
“I just want to build on that and keep improving.”
Leeds Rhinos: from Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Sinfield, McGuire, Garbutt, Burrow, Peacock, Keinhorst, Ablett, Cuthbertson, Leuluai, Singleton, S Ward, Achurch, Delaney, Walters.
Wigan Warriors: from Bowen, Charnley, Bateman, Gelling, Manfredi, Williams, Smith, Crosby, McIlorum, Mossop, Tomkins, Farrell, O’Loughlin, Powell, Clubb, Tautai, Patrick, Flower, Sutton.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.