TREBLE WINNERS Leeds Rhinos can travel to Wigan Warriors tonight with renewed confidence, Jimmy Keinhorst says.
Rhinos broke their duck for 2016 at the fifth attempt with a tense 20-16 victory over Huddersfield Giants a week ago.
And Keinhorst said they are feeling better about themselves after getting back into the winning habit, despite more injury problems for the rematch with last year’s Grand Final victims.
Rhinos pipped Wigan to the league leaders’ shield on points difference last year, but tonight’s hosts are currently six clear having won all their four First Utility Super League matches so far.
Wigan will go into tonight’s game as hot favourites, but Keinhorst reckons Leeds are capable of coming away with the points if they build on the positives from last week
“They have made a better start than us,” Keinhorst observed of Wigan, who are unbeaten at home against domestic opposition since the start of last season.
“We are a few men down, but I think it’s just a performance we are looking for at the moment.
“We will go over there and try and put one in. We have just got to build week by week.
“We have reviewed what we did against Huddersfield last week and we’ll try and put things right and in place for Friday.”
Keinhorst, the first German international to play in Super League, added: “We can go there with a bit of confidence.
“I think everyone worked hard to get that [last week’s] win.
“I don’t think it was the best performance ever, it was a bit scrappy in places, but to get the two points was probably a bit of a relief at this stage.
“It is something we can build on now, hopefully. I am sure we will keep getting better.
“It will take some work, we know that, but I think we can keep improving and finish well.”
Leeds and Wigan met five times last year, with Rhinos winning twice at home and in the title decider.
Wigan took the victory at DW Stadium and the Magic Weekend, played in Newcastle.
Keinhorst – whose pass sent Josh Walters over for the game-breaking try at Old Trafford in October – added: “Over the last few years there’s been a bit of a rivalry building and it’s always a big game and one you can go into excited.
“I am not sure they’ll be talking about revenge, but they’ll be looking to get one over on us as they always do.
“It is always a good turnout at DW Stadium and in front of their own fans they’ll be looking for a good performance, but so are we.”
Keinhorst made a big impact after replacing injured centre Joel Moon during the half-time break of last Friday’s game.
His touchdown levelled the scores late on before a conversion and penalty by Jordan Lilley secured both points.
“It was good to get on the end of it,” Keinhorst said of his decisive try. “But it was good to get the victory more than anything.
“Hopefully I can contribute more this week.”
The score was awarded by video official Phil Bentham after referee Richard Silverwood originally indicated no try.
Keinhorst said: “I was pretty confident initially.
“You get a feeling for it, sometimes you know as a player if you have got pressure on the grounding or if there’s that separation between the ball and your fingers or the ball and the floor.
“You don’t know what they are going to throw up when it goes to the slow-mo’ replays, so it was quite a relief when they gave a try.”
Keinhorst is ever-present for Rhinos this season making four appearances off the bench and starting in the second-row away to Catalans 13 days ago.
Of his form, he said: “It’s all right.
“It has been difficult for the team and coming off the bench and playing less minutes has been a bit different for me.
“I’d like to get some more minutes in and build week by week. I don’t think I’ve done too bad so far, but I’m by no means hitting my straps.
“I just want to improve my performances every game.”
Keinhorst began his Leeds career as a centre, but switched into the pack last year during a dual-registration spell at Hunslet Hawks.
Rhinos’ injury crisis will have a bearing on where he plays tonight. With Moon sidelined he could switch into the three-quarters and he said: “We will have to see, but I don’t mind back-row or centre, as I played last Friday.
“I am comfortable in each position and I just hope I can do the job I need to do for the team in whatever position I play.
“I don’t mind switching about, I just try and do whatever I am asked to do whether that’s in the centre, the second-row or whatever.”
Wigan Warriors from: Bateman, Bretherton, Burke, Charnley, Clubb, Farrell, Flower, Gelling, Gildart, Gregson, Manfredi, Mossop, O’Loughlin, Powell, Sarginson, Smith, Sutton, Tautai, Williams.
Leeds Rhinos from: Hardaker, Handley, Watkins, Keinhorst, Hall, Sutcliffe, Lilley, Galloway, Burrow, Cuthbertson, Ferres, Jones-Buchanan, Singleton, Walters, Mullally, Garbutt, Falloon, Achurch, Baldwinson.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.