CHAMPIONSHIP YOUNG player of the year Jordan Baldwinson has re-joined Leeds Rhinos on a two-year contract and is set to feature in next Friday’s clash with New Zealand at Headingley.
Baldwinson, 21, came through Rhinos’ academy system and made his Super League debut in 2013, before moving to New Zealand Warriors.
He returned to Super League with a loan spell at Bradford Bulls last year and spent 2015 on a 12-month contract at Featherstone Rovers.
“I am really pleased to be back at Leeds and I am really looking forward to coming back in for pre-season training,” Baldwinson said.
“Hopefully, if I work hard enough, I can impress Brian [coach Brian McDermott] and get into his 25-man squad for next season, but I know how tough the competition is at the Rhinos for those shirts.”
Baldwinson reckons he is a better player now than during his previous stint at Leeds.
He added: “Dropping out of Super League last season really spurred me on and I am so grateful to Featherstone Rovers for giving me the opportunity to get regular game time in 2015.
“I was humbled to win the Kingstone Press Championship young player of the year and I owe a real debt of thanks to Rovers and their fans for making me feel so at home at the Big Fellas Stadium.
“I know I am still a long way from achieving what I want to achieve, but I have taken a lot of confidence from this season.
“It was a huge experience for me to go to New Zealand and play for the Warriors and I think I am a better player and person for that experience.
“I know I need to keep working hard. Going to Featherstone was a big challenge for me because I have only just turned 21.
“However, I feel as a prop I am now reading the game better and know the standards that are expected of me.”
Of next week’s game, he said: “It would be great to be involved against the Kiwis especially as there are a few lads in their squad who I know from my time in the Warriors under-20s.
“They are a hugely talented squad and rightfully now are the number one team in the world. It would be brilliant to be able to play in the game, especially in front of the Leeds fans and would round off the season for me personally.”
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott said: “We are looking forward to having Jordan back in our fold.
“He took the opportunity to go to Featherstone last season and prove himself in the Championship and he certainly did that.
“We have got a lot of competition in our front-row next season, with Adam Cuthbertson and Brad Singleton establishing themselves this season, Keith Galloway, Anthony Mullally and Jordan coming in and Jamie Jones-Buchanan having a leadership role in the middle of the field.
“Jordan will be begin training with us next week and he will be in contention for the New Zealand game.”