PROP-FORWARD PROSPECT Jordan Baldwinson will get a first opportunity to show what he has learned from a stint in New Zealand when a Leeds Rhinos academy side face Australian Schoolboys at Headingley Carnegie on Tuesday (7pm).
“It will be a tough game,” said Baldwinson, who spent part of last season at New Zealand Warriors, before cutting short what was due to be a two-year stay.
“I have played the Schoolboys before with England academy and it wasn’t an easy game. It will be a really good learning curve, not just for me but all the boys as well.
“It’ll be a really good experience for the young boys in the academy. Australian Schoolboys are always going to be good, they have always got a strong team, so we will have to knuckle down and play well even to give them a good game.”
The Aussies began their tour with a thumping 86-6 win over England Combined Regional Academies at Derwent Park, Workington on Wednesday evening. The Regional side were captained by Castleford Tigers’ Brandon Moore, but he suffered an ankle injury and limped off after only four minutes.
“It is going to be good to have a crack at a team like that,” Baldwinson said. “We will be going in as the underdogs, but we will give it everything we’ve got and we are going to try and beat them. You always want to beat the Aussies and it would be nice to get one over them.”
Baldwinson, 20, has been training with Leeds since the start of the month, but will join Featherstone Rovers – along with three other Rhinos youngsters – on a one-year deal after Tuesday’s match.
“Being back at Leeds is great,” said Baldwinson, who is contracted to Rhinos for 2016. “It is good to be back with all the boys again and it doesn’t even feel like I’ve been away.
“It is good to be back at Leeds and back in the system, getting back into that high intensity and getting my body back into shape for the season.”
Of the move to Featherstone, Baldwinson said: “It is a great opportunity for me and the other boys to go there, play in the Championship and really get our heads down, train hard and really try and play well for that team.
“It is going to be a great opportunity to – fingers crossed – get some game time, but looking at the team, there’s some good lads so it’s not going to be an easy ride.
“It’s going to be really tough and I think it will be a good learning curve. Speaking to (coach) Andy Hay, he has got some really big ideas for me and the boys for next season, so it sounds like it will be a good year.”
Baldwinson played twice for Leeds in 2013 before moving to New Zealand. After featuring in the Warriors’ under-20s side he returned to England and saw out the season at Bradford Bulls.
“I have come back with a different experience,” he said.“Not many people of my age can say they’ve been over to New Zealand and played and trained over there.
“It has been a great experience, but whether or not I’ve come back a better player we’ll see when I play at Fev. I know it is going to be a really tough league, looking at some of the teams that are in the Championship now.
“Bradford have come down, Leigh are a good team and Fev are a good team. We are really going to be competing for that top spot.”