LEEDS RHINOS fans will get a rare opportunity to see homegrown prop Jordan Baldwinson in action this weekend – when he plays for the opposition.
Baldwinson, 21, rejoined Rhinos last autumn, but has spent most of this year on dual-registration with Featherstone Rovers.
That arrangement has now been converted into a loan deal until the end of the season and Baldwinson will be in Rovers’ line-up when they play host to Leeds in the opening round of the First Utility Qualifiers on Saturday.
Despite Leeds’ injury crisis this term, Baldwinson was given only one brief substitute appearance in Super League and the game in three days’ time is an opportunity to show what he can do.
“I’ve been speaking to a few of the boys at Leeds,” Baldwinson said. “They’ve said ‘how do you feel about playing against Leeds’ and I feel excited, but I know it is going to be a tough challenge. Hopefully I can give a good account of myself and it’s an opportunity to put myself in the shop window. Leeds’ players are world class so we are going to have to be on top of our game, but we have got some momentum and I can’t see why we can’t give them a decent game.”
A Hunslet Warriors product, Baldwinson rose through Rhinos’ academy ranks and made two Super League appearances in 2013 before moving to New Zealand Warriors. He later had a spell at Bradford Bulls and was the Championship’s young player of the year last year, with Rovers.
He confirmed he is contracted to Rhinos for next year, but insisted: “I am just focusing on playing really well for Featherstone. I am not thinking about next season, I’m just thinking about this season and hopefully I can play well in these eights and build a bit of momentum and I’d like to think I can get a few more games in Super League. I think I’ve had a good year at Featherstone, everyone seems happy with my progress and hopefully I can kick on and get into the Leeds team next season.”
Rovers won their final three games of the regular season to snatch fourth spot on the Championship table and the final place in the Qualifiers.
“We called it our own Origin series,” Baldwinson said of the run which earned Rovers the right to meet their dual-registration partner club on equal terms. “We had to play Batley, Halifax and Bradford and we had to win every one to make the top-four.
“It was a big ask – they were all teams in the running to make the top-four, they’ve been good all year and they’ve all got really good players – but we beat them all.
“Bradford are a full-time team so they have got that advantage, but to beat them at our place in front of 5,500 people was something really special. I will probably remember all three of those games for the rest of my career. We learned a lot and we got a lot of momentum and confidence from them and now what we need to do is take that into the middle-eights and hopeful we can shock a few Super League teams.”