Thursday saw both Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers allow members of their first team squads to depart on loan with the reigning champions allowing Jimmy Keinhorst to join Widnes for a month while the Tigers signed off on a deal for Jy Hitchcox to move to Bradford Bulls for the same period.
Keinhorst, a scorer of three tries in the club’s early season win over Hull KR, started the season as a second choice centre behind Liam Sutcliffe on the team’s left edge. Having started the match against the Robins, the German international also played against Melbourne Storm in the World Club Challenge but injury struck in their next match against Widnes – the team he is now joining. It was injuries which gave him his chance – initially as Joel Moon’s absence led to Sutcliffe moving to the halves, freeing up the left centre berth – but the Rhinos’ number 4 was then hit by injury. That opened the door for Ash Handley who is in some of the best form of his career with eight tries in his last five matches, having started seven times for Leeds this season. That form has seen Keinhorst fall further down the pecking order and, with Sutcliffe returning to the first team fold against Wakefield Trinity last time out, coach Brian McDermott – who insisted that Keinhorst has a future at the club – has sanctioned a move to the Vikings for the next month.
Hitchcox’s move was also confirmed this afternoon and it sees him join the Bulls following their first defeat of their maiden Betfred League 1 campaign against Workington last weekend. Having started last season’s Grand Final, the Australian now finds himself out of the first team picture. When last season’s top try scorer Greg Eden was ruled out with injury, off-season recruit James Clare was preferred and was in good scoring form before Eden’s recall last weekend. Despite his versatility, coach Daryl Powell has allowed the 28 year old to move to the Odsal club. Speaking of his temporary acquisition, Bulls’ coach John Kear explained that “Jy is going to replace Jake Butler-Fleming who has returned to Toronto. He is a player that ran out in the Grand Final against Leeds, so that is a measure of the quality of player that we have.”