While the Sydney Roosters lick their wounds off the back of an uncharacteristic defeat to the Warriors, Kurt Baptiste waits patiently in the wings.
It’s been a whirlwind few months for the crafty hooker; forced out of the Canberra Raiders due to salary cap constraints, playing for Papua New Guinea in the recent Rugby League World Cup, signing with Leigh in the English Super League before joining the Roosters. All that came after rupturing his Achilles in the 2017 pre-season meaning he didn’t play NRL until Round 14.
He played only one game for Leigh Centurions before making the decision to come back to Australia due to personal reasons and is now in the mix for a Roosters spot. For the moment, Baptiste is playing for the Wyong Roos in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW as he searches for that NRL opportunity.
“Obviously I’ve got to play well for Wyong and hopefully I’ll get a shot at some stage,” Baptiste says to NSWRL.com.au.
“I got forced out of Canberra for salary cap reasons, and it just wasn’t for me over [in England].
“I’m just glad to be back in Australia now.”
The Roosters have enjoyed success with long-term hooker Jake Friend while rising star Victor Radley has the capacity to play both hooker and in the back row.
There is certainly scope for all three to fit in the starting 17 should coach Trent Robinson go that way, particularly if he is looking for something different after the Warriors defeat.
Baptiste has the utmost respect for Friend and is learning off him every day as he settles into Bondi life.
“[Friend] is a great player, he’s playing really well,” Baptiste says.
“I’m learning a lot off him at training, so it’s been good.
“I’m really enjoying myself here, it’s a great club and a privilege to be a part of this club.”
The Wyong Roos went down to the Warriors by a field goal in what was Baptiste’s second game for the club, where he came off the bench for a 42-minute stint in the middle of the game.
He played a similar role in his first game last week, where ironically, they won by a field goal.
“I’m looking to build my minutes up gradually and getting a bit of that game fitness back,” Baptiste says.
The Roosters play the Cronulla Sharks on Friday night while Wyong play the Bulldogs on Saturday, and it will be interesting to see who Baptiste lines up for.