Young gun Jordan Baldwinson is out to earn a full-time contract with Leeds Rhinos this year
Baldwinson was a member of the England Academy squad which toured Australia in 2012 and made his first senior appearance in the win over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Boxing Day.
The former Hunslet Warriors back-rower was arguably the pick of seven under-19s, who were given a chance after impressing during pre-season training.
Now Baldwinson has set his sights on breaking into the senior side – following in the footsteps of another Warriors product Stevie Ward – and earning a permanent deal with Leeds.
“My aim is to get into the first team,” said Baldwinson, who turned 18 last October. “I can’t really say when that will be – that depends on Mac (coach Brian McDermott) and his support people.
“I would love to get in maybe at the end of this year. It would be an amazing thing to sign a first-team contract.
“I am not putting all my eggs in one basket, I’ll just keep playing well, training hard and see where that takes me. Hopefully, if all goes well, I will get a first-team contract.”
Baldwinson is on Rhinos’ ASSE programme, which sees him, Liam Sutcliffe, Josh Sunley and Elliott Minchella train with the first team twice a week, as well as studying at college.
“It’s beneficial for us young lads to train with and around people like Jamie Peacock, Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow,” he said.
“We can learn a lot from that. The last 12 months has been unbelievable for me, with going on the tour as well – playing for England was another amazing experience.
“Playing on Boxing Day was right up there as one of the best moments of my life and hopefully there’s more to come.”
Baldwinson could get another opportunity when Rhinos visit Hunslet Hawks for the annual Lazenby Cup derby on Sunday, January 27.
He is still buzzing from playing in front of a 9,000-plus Headingley Carnegie crowd in the festive fixture.
Said the teenager: “It was an amazing experience for me and all the other young lads.
“The feeling you get when you walk out, you can’t explain it – it’s an awesome feeling.”
It was the first time Baldwinson and his fellow under-19s had played against open-age opposition and he reckons he will be better for having gone up against some tough Super League-standard players.
“Before the game, when we looked at the team sheet, we were all speaking about how they had a really strong side out,” he said.
“We wanted to go out and see what we could do. We put the shirt on and just said ‘let’s go out and do it, have a crack and see what we can do’.
“I think we did really well, all the lads. We gave it our all, so you can’t ask for more than that.”