Baptiste keen to make an impression at Cowboys
RUGBY LEAGUE: Kurt Baptiste is eager to show North Queensland what he's capable of, starting in next week's trial on the Sunshine Coast.
The 27-year-old linked with the Cowboys after struggling to get game time at the premiership-winning Roosters last year.
He's relished the move north, despite a pre-season disrupted by floods, which ruined most of his belongings.
"There was about two weeks we couldn't really get on the field," he said. "We've been trying to catch up in the last couple of weeks and everyone's been training really well so I think we'll be right to go by round one."
Several Cowboys were directly affected by the rain.
"There were about eight or nine guys from our playing group who had their whole house flooded, so that's tough on those guys," he said. "I was in that boat too. I lost all my contents. I had to throw it all out. But there were lots of boys in that situation."
Baptiste said it was heartening to see how the people of Townsville responded to the floods, which caused immense damage around the region.
"Seeing how the community has been, rallying around each other and helping each other, it's been great."
He said the Cowboys players have helped one another, which has forged strong ties within the team.
"There have been boys moving furniture after we train all day ... going straight to their houses to clean up and pack stuff."
Baptiste has played at Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney but notched just nine appearances off the bench last season. He's determined to get more game time at the Cowboys.
"Last year, I probably didn't get the sort of minutes I'd like to. It was hard with Jake Friend there," he said. "He was playing almost 80 minutes most week so that was hard to get on the field. I'm hoping to get a bit more time this year and to try and show the coaching staff and players what I can do."
Pre-season matches against the Titans (Sunshine Coast, February 23) and against the Storm (Mackay, March 2) are chances for him to get the ball rolling.
"I hope I can play well in the trials and get in that 17-man squad for round one, so it starts next weekend, trying to play well and push my claims."
Baptiste will probably start in the No.9 jersey for the trial against the Titans.
"I can't wait to pull on that Cowboys jersey. It will be something different for me."
Regular Cowboys hooker Jake Granville is likely to be in that position for their season opener against the Dragons in Townsville on March 16 but Baptiste is in line for a spot on the bench.
He's relishing the prospect of working behind the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Josh McGuire.
"We've got a decent forward pack. I think they're going to get a few quick play-the-balls for us this year, so it will be good working of them."
The Cowboys will have an open training session at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Friday from 3pm while the Titans will have one from 10am.
The teams also plan to visit local schools and hospitals in the region.
Stadium officials told the Daily on Thursday the trial was on track to be a sell-out with tickets still available from ticketek.com.au