LEEDS RHINOS’ Jimmy Keinhorst admits it will be a “cool” experience lining up alongside the legendary Adrian Morley against the Kiwis – a player he used to watch from the Headingley terraces.
The second-row, fresh from winning the Super League Grand Final, was back at work yesterday preparing for Friday’s fascinating contest with New Zealand.
Headingley Carnegie is expected to be sold-out as the tourists come to town for their solitary warm-up game ahead of the Test series ahead with England.
The occasion also acts as a final farewell for departing Leeds trio Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai.
However, there are a couple of guest appearances from former Rhinos second-row Ali Lauitiiti, the Kiwi who won four titles with the club, and ex-England captain Morley, who made his debut for Leeds back in 1995, winning the Challenge Cup four years later before embarking on a stellar career with Sydney Roosters in 2001.
Keinhorst, 25, said: “I played with Ali at Wakefield and it’ll be great to play with him again.
“Obviously I remember watching Moz a bit when he was at Leeds.
“I was a Leeds fan and must have only been nine or 10 years old.
“It will be a cool experience to do that on Friday. He’s been great for the sport from what he did over here and Australia as well.
“It’ll be a great way for him to bow out here at Leeds again.”
It will also be a great way for Keinhorst to round off his own season.
Having suffered the disappointment of being 18th man for the Challenge Cup final win over Hull KR, he was on the bench to help Leeds secure the treble with that epic Grand Final success over Wigan Warriors.
“Regardless of what happened earlier in the season it was just awesome to be a part of that night,” he said.
“To be part of that treble-winning team, getting that final piece and sending Kylie, JP and Kev out on the best possible note, it was an amazing night to be part of and it will be remembered for a long time.”
Ordinarily, what follows next is the traditional Mad Monday celebrations and then a few weeks holiday.
However, for Leeds – the first club side to face a touring national team since the Kiwis battled Hull FC and St Helens in 2002 – there is another week’s graft to come.
“It is a bit strange,” admitted Keinhorst, who scored six tries in 16 games for Rhinos this term, having successfully switched from centre to second-row during an njury crisis.
“It doesn’t happen too often when you’re not involved in the international fixtures.
“It is unusual for me. When you are not considered in those international teams you’re thinking that it (facing a national side) is not going to happen.
“But we have the opportunity there now and it will be a great prospect to play against some of the world’s best. I’m looking forward to it.
“We had a few days off but are back in today.
“We’ll have a good week’s training now and then rock up Friday for another game.”
Fans are invited to the Kiwis’ open practice session at Rhinos’ Kirkstall training ground this morning (10am).
City neighbours Hunslet Hawks, meanwhile, have signed forward Jay Leary from York City Knights for next season.
The 23-year-old, who had a brief spell at Batley Bulldogs, graduated through the Rhinos’ youth set-up, and Hawks director of rugby Darren Williams said: “I’ve kept an eye on his progress throughout his career, he’s been unlucky with injuries and ended his year at East Leeds. His ability is not in question and he’s hungry to take this opportunity we have given him.”