Baldwinson made his first senior appearance for Leeds since 2013 in last Sunday’s 14-10 loss at Salford Red Devils, but played only 10 minutes as a second-half replacement.
That came after he was an unused substitute in the home win over Huddersfield Giants earlier this season, though he has turned out for Featherstone Rovers on dual-registration. Baldwinson made his Rhinos debut three years ago before a brief move to New Zealand Warriors. He returned to England the following year and had a spell at Bradford Bulls, then spent last season at Featherstone, being named Kingstone Press Championship young player of the year.
Despite the result, the 21-year-old Hunslet Warriors product described being back in the team as a “really great experience”. He said: “It was good to get in with the boys for my first proper hit-out this season.
“Against Huddersfield I didn’t get on, so it was nice to take to the field this time and get a feel for what it’s like. If I look back on it I’d like to get possibly a bit longer, but everyone has to start somewhere and I was just happy with getting on the field. I play regularly down at Featherstone Rovers and that gives me an opportunity to show the coaching staff that if there’s a chance I should play I will put my hand up and play.
“My job at the moment is just to play well for Featherstone and if I get an opportunity, take it with both hands. Hopefully if I get an opportunity again at least I’ll know what it’s like to play and hopefully I’ll get a few more minutes.”
Baldwinson feels the dual-registration partnership is working well for him. He added: “Featherstone is a really welcoming place and when I turn up it’s nice to see people there are excited to have me in their team. I enjoy going there and I feel like I have taken on from where I left off last season and my game is going well and I am progressing. I think as a team we are a lot stronger this season, so it has really helped me being at Featherstone this season.”
Rhinos, who play host to Hull on Friday, are six points adrift of eighth spot in First Utility Super League, but Baldwinson reckons they will turn things around.
He said: “It is hard for me to say with only having played one game, but I feel everything’s there, we are just missing an extra five per cent. On Saturday we had two tries disallowed, so we could have won the game. You can’t blame the refs; we can only control the things we have control over. We have just got to work hard from now on and just see where it takes us. We need the Leeds fans to stick behind us, because without them it would be an even harder mission.”
Meanwhile, long-term casualty Stevie Ward is confident of a July return, despite a third operation on his damaged knee this week. He has also had minor surgery on a shoulder since being hurt last October.