IT is unusual for brothers to represent a national team although we have had the instances of the Charlton brothers and the Neville brothers on the international soccer scene and the Bedser twins at cricket among others.

The Keinhorst brothers can however beat all that and when youngest brother James joined his three brothers in the German national Rugby League team recently it sent people scrambling for the Guinness Book of Records. As well as there being four brothers in the team Markus and Kristian are twins.

It is most unusual if not ever heard of before for four brothers to line up in a national team and even more so when the team they are representing is not that of their homeland.

Kristian, Markus and Nicholas Keinhorst made their debuts together for the German national side in the country's first international match in Holland in 2006.

During the first Tri Nations competition the trio were acknowledged in Tallinn, Estonia, by the Estonians and given special awards.

This year a fourth brother, 17 year-old James, made his debut as a second-half substitute in the game against the Czech Republic.

Markus Keinhorst is currently the highest points scorer for the German team.

All four brothers play Rugby Union for clubs with the Otley and Old Otliensians teams. The older boys also play Rugby League with Leeds Academics and Union with Leeds Met Uni.

The 24 year-old twins Markus and Kristian are now working after finishing their studies at Leeds Met University. Nicholas, 19, is in his second year at Leeds University.

Their mother Sue said: "From Union to League the boys keep themselves fit all year round and take both disciplines very seriously. They are hugely supportive of one another and have enthusiastically developed the plans of growing the popularity of Rugby League in Germany."

All four brothers played through to the final of the Merit League as the German Exiles played St Helen's Wild Boars putting on a fantastic battle with a squad of only 14. They lost out 36-22.

The Keinhorst brothers were in the German team which won the 2006 Tri Nations tournament.

They beat Austria 34-32 in Bad Reichenhall, Germany and then beat Estonia 38-24 in Tallinn, Estonia.

This year they lost 36-6 to Serbia in Heidelberg, Germany, and then beat the Czech Republic 44-22 in Prague.

Sue added: "We are proud of the boys. Over the years they have taken lots of knocks and, probably unwisely, the boys play through some of their injuries. I am not sure I can watch them anymore, it just gets tougher."

The brothers all started out playing football, a sport their father understands best, but whilst at St Mary's School, Menston, they all switched to rugby, the twins subsequently playing for Yorkshire Schools and Yorkshire.

Nick had to delay his eagerness to play having recovered from surgery for a brain tumour and eye adjustment. Nick triumphed over adversity however and he too has played for Yorkshire.

James the youngest and smallest is however extremely resilient and he played rugby for school and had to make the decision to leave a successful time with his football club Menston Hotshots to play rugby for Otley.

He has proved his strengths in a well established team and now goes from strength to strength in a variety of positions.

The boys qualify to play for Germany as that is the homeland of their father, They responded to a request to get together with players from Heidleburg to have a look at standards with a view to broadening Rugby League into Germany and other countries that play Union but not League.

So the team was born and now it is gaining sponsors and becoming formalised.

The boys' father is thrilled at the boys representing his homeland and so are his family back home in Bochum and Dortmund.

The brothers are supporting and encouraging to newcomers and are critical of themselves. They are looking forward to more interest being shown in the game in Germany. The German Exiles would be like to hear from interested German or part German players for next season.