The first German to play in Super League is looking to cement a place in the Leeds Rhinos match-day squad and help them return to Wembley to defend their Challenge Cup crown. Peter Smith reports.
ONE OF rugby league’s more unusual stories took a new twist when Jimmy Keinhorst was named Leeds Rhinos’ man of the match in the win over Hull which lifted them back into top spot in First Utility Super League.
The first German international to play in the elite competition, Keinhorst, 24, was signed from Leeds Metropolitan University, made his Rhinos debut in 2012 and was a substitute in that year’s Challenge Cup final defeat at Wembley, in only his fourth senior game.
He spent much of last year on loan at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and has also had spells with Hunslet Hawks on loan in 2013 and as a dual-registration player this season.
Sunday was his fifth Rhinos appearance this term and his first in the pack, after previously featuring as a centre.
Coach Brian McDermott’s decision to name Keinhorst in the second-row for Sunday’s game raised some eyebrows before the match, but proved to be an inspired selection as he crossed for one try and provided the final pass for both of centre Joel Moon’s brace.
“I am just trying to take the opportunities when they come along,” said Keinhorst, who also played rugby union for Otley.
“I have got a few good players in front of me, obviously, but we’re going through a bit of a period now with some injuries.
“If I get called upon, I just want to do a job and do what’s asked of me.”
Of his switch into the forwards, Keinhorst said: “I’ve had a few games there with Hunslet and enjoyed it.
“But it’s something new and obviously I have to keep learning. It’s a bit different in Super League, obviously the pace of the game and the size of the players.
“I could do with a few more kilos on me myself, but I do what’s asked of me and, hopefully, I can do a good enough job for the team and the coach.”
Hull’s pack included Jordan Thompson, who began his career in Castleford Tigers’ outside-backs. Rhinos signed the currently-injured Aussie Brett Delaney as a centre, before he made a permanent switch into the back-row, so does Keinhorst see his long-term future as a forward?
“Perhaps,” he said. “But I haven’t really thought that much into it.
“I just take the games as they come and the long-term will take care of itself.
“If that’s to be, then I will take that. But it isn’t something I have really thought about.
“The main thing for me is to be in the team. As long as I play more games and get more experience, then that’s good for me.”
He added: “Overall, I was quite pleased with how I went.
“There were one or two things in my defence I need to work on, but that will come with more experience in that position.
“It was a good game, but there’s plenty more to work on for the next time.”
After four seasons as a fringe player, Keinhorst admitted he is now looking to establish himself as a regular in the match-day 17.
He was handed the No 20 jersey at the start of the campaign and said: “I have been here for a few years now.
“Hopefully, I can take the opportunities when they come and keep my spot, then we’ll take it from there.”
Keinhorst is hoping to retain his place for Friday evening’s rematch at Hull, when a place in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-finals will be at stake.
It is the third time in six seasons Rhinos have played Hull at home in the league the week before visiting KC Stadium for a Challenge Cup tie.
Rhinos have won all of those games so far, but Keinhorst reckons they will need to improve to keep that record going this week.
They were never behind in the game two days ago, but Hull pushed them closer than the 32-20 scoreline suggests and trailed by only four points with five minutes remaining. “It happens quite often, with how the league and Cup fixtures fall,” said Keinhorst of the double-header.
“We will look at our game from Sunday and obviously there’s plenty to work on.
“We will go to Hull on Friday with a really good game plan and, hopefully, we can get the result again.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos half-back Danny McGuire has undergone a scan on the ankle injury he suffered in the win two days ago. McGuire is hopefully the injury – which led to him being helped from the field and leaving the stadium on crutches with his damaged foot in a protective boot – is not as severe as first feared.
Meanwhile Hull could be without their scrum-half Marc Sneyd for Friday’s tie after he was charged with making Grade D dangerous contact on McGuire.
The former Castleford Tigers man was sin-binned by referee Robert Hicks and charged after the incident was studied by the RFL’s match review panel.
He will appear before a disciplinary hearing at Red Hall, in Leeds, tonight and faces a ban of three to five games if found guilty.
McGuire was also yellow- carded, for kicking out at Sneyd, a decision which drew criticism from Leeds coach Brian McDermott.