RECORD HOLDER Jimmy Keinhorst has delayed the start of his closed-season break to help boost rugby league’s international development.
The Leeds Rhinos centre will line up alongside his brother Nick, who plays for Leeds Akkies, when Germany take on Wales Dragonhearts at Glamorgan Wanderers, Cardiff, tomorrow. It will be a far cry from Old Trafford, where Keinhorst was a non-playing member of Rhinos’ Grand Final-winning squad last weekend.
But he is keen to maintain his association with one of the sport’s newest nations.
In 2007, he and brothers Nick, Kristian and Markus set a Guinness world record – in a game against Czech Republic – by becoming the most siblings to play in a rugby league international match.
Five years ago Jimmy became the first German international to play in Super League. He has not featured for Germany since that year’s game against Russia, and said: “It has been a while and I am looking forward to it.
“Leeds has been my priority for the last few years and the [Germany’s] fixtures haven’t worked out because they’ve been towards the middle of the season.
“It is always an honour when the opportunity arises and I’ve got chance now because it’s the end of the year and I don’t have other commitments. It’s good to keep involved with what they are doing and it is another chance to play with one of my brothers, which I’ve not done for a while.”
The squad for tomorrow includes Swinton Lions’ former Rhinos half-back Ben White, plus Andy Hoggins (Oxford), Brad Billsborough (St Helens) and York City Knights’ Ben Dent. The rest of the squad come from German-based teams.
“Hopefully I can help with the development of their domestic players there,” Keinhorst said.
“They are trying to get more games in October so more heritage players with more experience can play for them.”
The Dragonhearts squad is drawn from Wales’ domestic competition.
Meanwhile, Keinhorst admitted to having been “oblivious to the world” for a few days as Rhinos’ celebrated their shock Grand Final triumph.
“It was a real high finishing in that way,” he said.
“For the players moving on it was a great send-off and everyone was really happy for them and for the season to come to an end the way it did.”
A hand injury restricted Keinhorst to just 16 appearances this year and he was not selected for the final. And he admitted: “It was a strange feeling. I wanted to be part of it, but it wasn’t to be.
“I had to enjoy it for what it was. Seeing the boys put in that kind of performance was brilliant.
“It was mixed emotions, but the overriding one was happiness for the players who went out there and enjoyed it and got the job done.”
Reflecting on 2017, Keinhorst, who will report back for pre-season training with Leeds next month, said: “The season started well for me, I was fitting in well at centre, but the injury came and disrupted things and I never quite got it back after that.
“It was a bit frustrating, but it is done for this year and all I am focusing on now is being in the best shape I can for the beginning of next season.”
Keinhorst is not the only Rhinos player on international duty this weekend.
Full-back Ashton Golding, who was 18th man for the Grand Final, is in the Jamaica squad to face France in Perpignan tonight.
Jamaica’s team manager is former Dewsbury Rams coach Glenn Morrison.
His 20-man squad also includes Dewsbury’s Alex Brown, Daniel Thomas and Jode Sheriffe, plus Jamel Goodall of Castleford Tigers and Doncaster’s Leeds-born former Milford Marlins player Aaron Jones-Bishop.