GIVEN he spent time running up the side of a volcano when training with New Zealand Warriors, you could say new signing Jordan Baldwinson is well primed for the heat of Bradford Bulls’ relegation battle.
The teenager is set to make his debut when Bradford – eight points adrift of third-bottom Wakefield Trinity – play Catalan Dragons in Perpignan this afternoon.
His arrival from the NRL club, along with fellow 19-year-old forward Mason Tonks, has given Bradford coach Francis Cummins some much-needed options as he tries to plot their course to safety.
Although the young Yorkshiremen only spent eight months in Auckland after leaving Leeds Rhinos last year, they learned plenty, playing a few Under 20s games and also training with the NRL club’s first team.
But it was the pre-season regime which proved a real eye-opener.
“We had to run for 50 seconds without breathing up the side of this volcano,” recalled Baldwinson, who will re-join Leeds on a three-year deal with Tonks at the end of this Super League campaign.
“Then we had 10 seconds to catch our breath before we did it again.
“This went on all the way up the side of the volcano. I’ve never done anything like it.
“People were fainting and going unconscious – it was unbelievable.
“I was only out there eight months but I learned so much about my game and it will only benefit me in the long-term,” he added.
“I’ve no regrets about anything.”
Having emerged through Leeds’s academy, he played two Super League games for his hometown club last season before taking up a one-year contract in New Zealand with his fellow Rhinos colleague Tonks.
On his return, the former England Academy international said: “Obviously I missed my family but the main reason for coming back was that there are better opportunities over here.
“Next year I wouldn’t qualify for the Under-20s and I’d have had to play reserve grade – but there are eight or nine props at the Warriors that are ahead of me. It could’ve been five years before I played first team.
“So I had to weigh up my options and decide what was best for my development.
“Coming to Bradford than to Leeds on a three-year deal was the best option. I’ve got to take my chances now, starting at Bradford.”
Bradford’s appeal against their six-point deduction for entering administration will be heard on Wednesday week but they realise they cannot rely solely on any positive outcome from that to ressurect their season.
They badly need wins but their player strength is improving.
As well as Baldwinson, Cummins has other prop additions to the side vanquished 54-16 by Huddersfield Giants on Sunday, with Manase Manuokafoa recovered from injury and on-loan Antonio Kaufusi back after being unable to face his parent club.