AFTER TWO years learning his trade at tonight’s hosts Featherstone Rovers, Jordan Baldwinson is hoping to make a breakthrough with Leeds Rhinos this season.
Baldwison has made 61 appearances for Rovers, on loan or dual-registration, but will be in Rhinos’ colours for this evening’s pre-season derby – and has his sights set on Super League.
“I have had a really good pre-season and I feel really fit, so I am hoping to get a bit more game time this year,” said the 22-year-old front-rower. “Last year I only featured in one game [for Leeds], against Salford for 10 minutes, but I still feel like I built up some momentum at Featherstone. We had a really good year and the back end of the season was brilliant because we made the top four. That was massive for a club like Fev and I got some good experience from that, which was great.”
Baldwinson made his Rhinos debut as a teenager in 2013 and had spells at New Zealand Warriors and Bradford Bulls before linking up with Featherstone. He was named Kingstone Press Championship young player of the year in 2015 and shortlisted again last term.
“I feel like I am learning a lot and I think Featherstone has played a big part in that,” he said. “I have played a lot of game time there and got a lot of minutes and it has been brilliant for my development.
“But I feel like if I can get a few more Super League games for the Rhinos this year that will bring me on even more. I am just going to keep training hard and trying to play well and if I have to start the season off at Featherstone so be it.
“I will try and do my best down there and hopefully help them have a good season and hopefully if Mac [Leeds coach Brian McDermott] sees I am training hard and playing well he will put me in. But at the start of the season I am just focusing on playing well. That’s my main goal.”
Baldwinson insisted he is prepared to bide his time for an opportunity at his hometown club.
“You’ve got to be patient,” he said. “I understand Mac has to pick the team he believes is strongest and he feels will win the game.
“It is up to me to put myself in the shop window and hopefully get picked. It is all a process and all about making sure when the time’s right, you’re ready, and hopefully this season if I get my chance I will be ready to go and I’ll do well for Mac and the boys.”
After two full years in the Kingstone Press Championship Baldwinson is confident he can handle the step up to Super League.
“I’ve played enough games now to understand what my job is as a front-rower,” he said. “I feel like this is my season, I’ve had a tough pre-season and trained really hard. The boys have done really well and we’re all really excited for this season.
“I feel it wouldn’t be as hard to slot in this year as it would have been last year. I think we are in a lot better place than we were last year, we are confident and the aim is to go out there and do really well as a team.”