He’s played in Super League and the Betfred Championship as well as a spell Down Under with New Zealand Warriors but, for the first time, prop Jordan Baldwinson believes he’s found the club for him.
“I’m over the moon to commit to another year for this great club,” he said after signing a new contract with the Knights. “I really feel like I have finally found the club I can call home and enjoy playing my rugby with a great set of lads.
“Everything about the club is great and I couldn’t think of another club I’d rather be at.”
After joining the club in Spring 2019, initially on loan from Wakefield Trinity, Baldwinson helped the Knights to a memorable third-place finish in the Championship. On what initially attracted him to the club and then enticed him to stay, he highlighted the impact of the surroundings and staff. “We have amazing facilities and fans as well as top coaching,” he outlined. “I would say the players at the club made my decision to stay easy. We have a really close group and everyone buys into what Fordy wants to achieve.
“We all want to be the best we can be and that’s the kind of environment I want to be in.”
Head coach Ford commented in March, shortly before the season was put on hold then cancelled, that he could see a future captain in Baldwinson, something the forward had pride in hearing. “I was happy to see Fordy commented on my progress and even mentioned I had leadership qualities. I think having a good pre-season was leading me in a good direction but, unfortunately, it all came to a stop after Rochdale.
“However, I’m ready to go again and pick up from where I left off and I will carry on doing what I was doing before in pushing my teammates as much as I can in training and on the pitch,” he added.
Baldwinson will form part of what is shaping up to be an experienced, imposing Knights pack next season and, on the group of middles and squad as a wider entity, the former Leeds Rhinos man remarked on the quality within the group. “It’s great that we have secured some really good signings with the likes of Danny Kirmond and Ryan Atkins,” he noted, commenting on the leadership and influence they will bring. “To have two huge role models for players like myself and the other young-end players is great. They have so much experience between them – hopefully it will rub off on the rest of our team.
“This also shows what direction the club is going by being able to attract players such as those two.”
The buzz surrounding the club has been growing in recent weeks and that is in no small part down to the increasingly imminent move into the LNER Community Stadium. Ex-New Zealand Warrior Baldwinson is one of the players to have visited our new home and admits to being rather impressed. “I would put the stadium up there with the best in rugby league over all three comps,” he reasoned. “It is amazing, the pitch is perfection and the stadium itself is so impressive.
“I just can’t wait to get them loud York fans in there, making it a real home!”
Away from the Knights, Baldwinson’s day job involves sports coaching which, due to lockdown and other measures restricting interaction, had been put on hold until schools re-opened earlier this month. On coaching, he commented on how much he enjoys it. “It’s something I’m passionate about, trying to be a role model for the younger generation,” he said. “Not being able to do that has been challenging. In the spare time I had, I was just trying to keep myself fit and make sure I can give the best version of myself next year.”
Another endeavor of Baldwinson’s is hair-cutting, something a handful of rugby league players have got into. On why he thinks that is, he reasoned that players have something of a captive market. “It’s going really well. I think people a rugby player attract a lot of people to wanting a hair cut and a lot of the York lads come to me for their haircuts so it’s great that they support me with it,” he said.
Given the spare time he has had in recent months, Baldwinson was soon aware of the impressive gesture of generosity from our 2020 members in donating their money back to the club as well as the hard work of Squadbuilder. Retentions such as Baldwinson’s are made possibly by their kindness and hard work and he commented on the impact those fans have on the team on a matchday. “The fans are amazing when you’re on that pitch and things aren’t going the way we planned,” Baldwinson explained. “When things aren’t going the way we planned, our fans are always there willing us on and doing their best to get the most out of us.
“It’s almost like having an extra man on the pitch at times,” he added. “The way they have accepted me as one of their own when I first joined on loan had a big impact on why I wanted to stay at the Knights.”