Qualifiers will be tough challenge for Leeds Rhinos, admits Keinhorst

FIT-AGAIN CENTRE Jimmy Keinhorst insists Leeds Rhinos do not expect to simply breeze through the middle-eights.

Jimmy Keinhorst.
Jimmy Keinhorst.

Rhinos are facing a battle against relegation for the second time in three seasons after being condemned to the Super-8s Qualifiers with one game remaining in the regular campaign.

In 2016 they finished ninth in Super League and went on to secure their top-flight status by winning six of their seven extra fixtures.

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This year they will take on Betfred Super League rivals Hull KR, Salford Red Devils and Widnes Vikings as well as the leading four teams from the Championship, likely to be Toronto Wolfpack, Toulouse Olympique, London Broncos and Halifax.

Jimmy Keinhorst is tackled by Leigh's Drew Hutchison and Harrison Hansen.

Of those, Halifax are the only part-time team and Keinhorst is predicting a tough competition.

“It will definitely present a challenge,” Keinhorst warned.

“There’s some different Championship teams in there from what we played last time round and we’ll just have to go into it with the right attitude again and make sure we’re as well prepared as we can be.”

There will be nothing at stake when Rhinos visit Salford for their final game of the regular season on Friday.

Leeds will finish ninth whatever happens on Friday and Salford are already confirmed in 11th place.

Teams begin the Qualifiers on zero points, but Rhinos have a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves coming up on August 5 and Keinhorst stressed they have to start building some form and confidence.

“We will be looking to put a performance in this week,” he stated.

“We want to build something going into the semi-final week.

“That’s going to be a massive week for us.

“Against Salford it’s important we put in a performance that can give us some momentum into that.”

Keinhorst – who has been named in the Germany squad for forthcoming games against Czech Republic, Norway and Netherlands – returned in last week’s win over Widnes following more than a month on the sidelines with a hamstring tear.

He said: “It has been frustrating this season with a couple of injuries, again, so it was good to be back.

“That was the first game I’ve played at Headingley this year.

“We got a win and kept Widnes to a zero which was probably the most pleasing thing.

“We know we went away from what we planned to do a bit, in the second half especially, so there’s some things to fix up and put right for this week and onwards.

“The win has been a long time coming so it is a bit of a relief, but there’s still plenty to work on for us and we’ll be looking to do that.”

Keinhorst is out of contract at the end of this season and has been strongly linked with Hull KR.

He said: “A decision has been made, but I won’t say anything – it’s not for me to say at the moment.”