A FORMER Taree Red Rovers junior will represent Australian University rugby league in a three game tour of South Africa this month.
Jayden Baker has been named as fullback for the team. The Australians will head to South Africa on October 20 and play Western Province in Cape Town before taking on a South African Universities side in two test matches in Pretoria and Johannesburg.
Baker, 22, now lives on the Gold Coast. He played junior football with Rovers, although he didn’t take the game up until under 16s. He then moved into grade with the Old Bar Pirates, playing under 18s and some first grade before heading north on a scholarship with the Gold Coast Titans under 20s when he was 19.
For the past three years he has played in the Queensland Cup with Tweed Heads Seagulls although he has signed to North Brisbane Devils for 2019.
As an apprentice diesel mechanic, Baker also attends the Queensland University of Technology as part of his course and through here he was selected in the Queensland University side to play NSW at St Marys earlier this year. There’s no State of Origin regulations in university rugby league.
“That made me eligible for the Queensland team, even though I’m from NSW,’’ Baker explained.
Queensland thrashed NSW 52-12, with Baker among the try scorers. The Australian squad was named after the match.
Baker admits he has no idea what the opposition will be like in South Africa.
“Obviously rugby union is huge over there and I’m not sure how much league is played. But I’m guessing they’ll be tough,’’ he said.
He’s looking forward to playing footy overseas and also wearing the green and gold.
“It’s going to be a great experience.’’
Baker would ultimately like to have a crack at the NRL.
“But my biggest thing for 2019 would be to play consistent footy at Queensland Cup level and to finish my apprenticeship,’’ he said.
Baker has been in touch with West Tigers coach Ivan Cleary but he has yet to receive any formal offer.
“Ivan is aware of my apprenticeship situation,’’ he said.