IN SIX weeks Jimmy Keinhorst has gone from despair to delight.
The German international was dropped from Leeds Rhinos’ side for their Challenge Cup final rout of Hull KR in August, but bounced back to play a key role in the history-making Grand Final triumph over Wigan Warriors.
Keinhorst played 12 successive games, including the Cup semi-final, before being left out of the Wembley team.
He suffered a serious facial injury the week after which kept him out of action for three games, but Stevie Ward’s season-ending knee injury offered him a way back.
“I guess in some sort of way it makes up for missing the Cup final,” Keinhorst said of his Old Trafford appearance.
“I was disappointed to miss out on that, but my thoughts turned to the Grand Final straight away and how I could finish the season and the opportunity that was still there.
“I’m happy I got to be a part of that.”
Keinhorst spent the first half on the bench, but was introduced after the break and provided the final pass for what proved to be the crucial score.
When Danny McGuire’s kick was spilled by Dom Manfredi, Joel Moon lobbed the ball to Keinhorst and he put Josh Walters in.
“I was happy with how I did,” the 25-year-old centre/second-rower said of his Grand Final debut.
“It was non-stop, it was a bit of a blur that 30 minutes. I was running around like a headless chicken at times, but anything to get the win and we managed to do that – just – at the end.”
It was only Keinhorst’s 33rd game for Rhinos and he has now played on rugby league’s two biggest stages, after appearing in the 2012 Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
He spent most of last season on loan at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and was dual-registered with Hunslet Hawks for the first half of this year.
“I have not played a massive amount of games over the time I’ve been here, but I am just grateful to be a part of it,” Keinhorst said.
“I am happy I could contribute on Saturday and I am really happy for the guys who are bowing out.
“It was a great finish to the season for everyone, the whole team who have worked so hard all year.”
Keinhorst also featured in the semi-final win over St Helens, when Leeds hit back to win 20-13 after trailing late on.
“I think it was down to the belief we have in ourselves,” he said.
“That overrides most things. We keep believing, we stick together and we keep going until the end.
“We managed to find a way to win.”
Rhinos’ Grand Final win means they now hold the Challenge Cup, Super League trophy and league leaders’ shield, plus the Man of Steel (Zak Hardaker) coach of the year (Brian McDermott), club of the year, Lance Todd (Tom Briscoe) and Harry Sunderland (Danny McGuire) awards and the Rugby League Writers’ and Broadcasters’ player of the year (Adam Cuthbertson).