THE NERVOUS wait has begun for Leeds Rhinos’ players.
With four days to go until the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final showdown with Hull KR at Wembley, several members of Rhinos’ squad are hanging on to hear if they have been picked in coach Brian McDermott’s 17.
Rhinos’ outside-backs for Wembley are unlikely to be unchanged from the semi-final win over St Helens, though hooker Paul Aiton’s season-ending injury has given McDermott a headache.
Teenager Robbie Ward started in the No 9 role against Hull last Friday, but a week earlier McDermott named Adam Cuthbertson there and played with an extra prop and only one half-back, Kevin Sinfield filling in at dummy-half until Rob Burrow came off the bench.
Burrow is another possibility to start at hooker and McDermott has plenty of options in the pack, with Brett Delaney likely to be available following a hamstring problem and Stevie Ward (ankle) and Mitch Achurch (wrist and concussion) having made successful comebacks from long-term injury.
German international Jimmy Keinhorst, who played in Rhinos’ 2012 Wembley defeat by Warrington Wolves, has featured in the last 12 games, but admitted he won’t relax until the side has been named.
As a back-rower and former centre, his versatility make him an asset to the squad, but he is competing with several other players for a spot in the side.
“There’s a lot of competition and that’s a good thing for a coach and the fans,” Keinhorst said.
“Everyone will be eager to get a place, no doubt, but some of us will be disappointed as well.
“He (McDermott) has got to pick a team to do the job on the day, so we have got to focus on that and support the boys whatever happens.”
Keinhorst was promoted into Rhinos’ top-20 squad this year, but began the season on dual-registration with Hunslet Hawks before being recalled to Leeds during an injury crisis.
“I’m obviously pleased with the run of games I’ve got,” he said.
“I’ve not really had that consistency since I’ve been at Leeds, so that’s been good and I’ve been able to work on things week by week and improve.
“Hopefully I can keep doing the job for the team that’s asked of me.”
Keinhorst’s previous Wembley appearance came in only his fourth senior game. He said: “It would be awesome to go back there again. I’d be very lucky to go there twice, with the limited experience I’ve had. I’d love to grab the opportunity and get a win this time round.”