RETURNING FORWARD Jordan Baldwinson is “over the moon” at the prospect of rejoining Leeds Rhinos.
Baldwinson and fellow forward Mason Tonks, now both 19, left Rhinos last autumn to join New Zealand Warriors, but will jet back England this weekend after being released by the NRL outfit.
They will spend the rest of the season at Bradford Bulls before returning to Rhinos ahead of the 2015 campaign.
Baldwinson is a former Hunslet Warriors junior, who made two substitute appearances for Rhinos last term. He played played five times for Warriors’ second string in the National Youth Cup and was a try scorer in a 54-0 win over Canberra Raiders last weekend.
Tonks, from Castleford, has yet to make a senior appearance, but played twice for Warriors’ under-20s.
Baldwinson told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It has been an amazing experience to be part of the Warriors and one that will benefit me in the future.
“Opportunities at the Warriors to play first team next year are slim as they have a lot of highly-rated NRL players who have just signed long-term deals.
“Speaking to (Warriors football manager) Dean Bell and thinking of my future, I had to do what was best for me.
“Being offered chance to come home and play for the Bulls and gain Super League experience is a massive thing for me.”
Baldwinson added: “Now I need to make a name for myself in England. Leaving New Zealand will leave me in good stead for Super League. I will be returning to Leeds for 2015 and I am very excited and over the moon to do so.”
Tonks echoed Baldwinson’s comments, saying: “I have loved my time with the lads and have really enjoyed the experience of living here, but I am also looking forward to the chance to further my career.”
Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington confirmed Baldwinson and Tonks will be back at Headingley Carnegie next year.
He said: “There’s an arrangement for the players to return to Leeds for the start of next season.
“I haven’t spoken them yet, but I will be doing so in due course.
“It was always going to be an interesting experience for them in New Zealand and we put this arrangement in place (for a possible return to Leeds) as an alternative.
“Both of the players would have continued with the Rhinos this year, but the opportunity in New Zealand came up and they were keen to take it.
“I said at the time it would be a challenge, but I haven’t had chance yet to talk to them about how the experience has been.”
Hetherington said the possibility of the pair returning next season only arose in the last few days.
He added: “Bradford are pretty keen to take them on board this year and that has prompted things.
“On the back of that both of them have decided they want to pick up where they left off going forward.
“The Bulls experience should be a good one.
“Bulls approached us about the possibility and we had discussions.
“They are looking to bolster their squad for this year.
“It will be a good experience for the lads and it will assist Bradford.”
The move to Bulls could give both players vital Super League experience ahead of their return to Rhinos.
Bulls coach Francis Cummins said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for both Jordan and Mason and it is also a fantastic opportunity for us as a club.
“Jordan has captained his country at youth level and Mason is hugely talented.
“I saw a fair bit of them while they were at Leeds and was very impressed by them.
“They now have a great chance to make a name for themselves in Super League, by putting down a marker for us in the vital weeks and months ahead.”