All year he has been waiting for his opportunity to don the famous lime green jersey of the Canberra Raiders and now that he has got his opportunity in first grade, crafty hooker Kurt Baptiste plans on not letting it go to waste.
With his career at the cross-roads at the end of 2013 after being cut from the Brisbane Broncos, Baptiste was thrown a lifeline by the Raiders for the 2014 season.
Stuck behind McCrone, Buttriss and McIlwrick in the pecking order, Baptiste was forced to ply his trade in the Intrust Super Cup with the Raiders feeder side Souths Logan Magpies.
Since Round 1, Baptiste has led the way for Souths Logan and his intellect and guile out of dummy half coupeld with his tenacious defence in the middle, has been a major reason why the Magpies have been a staple part of the Intrust Super Cup’s top eight.
His form was so impressive for the Magpies that Baptiste was selected as the starting hooker for the Queensland Residents representative side in which he again shone brightly.
The Souths Logan coaching staff had every bit of faith that he would excel in the NRL for the Green Machine, all he needed was an opportunity.
As legendary NFL Hall of Famer Mike Singletary once rhetorically asked and then answered - “Do you know what my favourite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”
All Baptiste needed was an opportunity and when McCrone was reverted back to halfback by Coach Ricky Stuart, the 23 year old was given his chance to impress against the Wests Tigers in Round 17.
He has kept his place ever since.
“I’ve really enjoyed being able to play in the last three games,” Baptiste said. “I was waiting for my opportunity and now that I’ve got it I plan on making the most out of it.
“At the end of last year the Broncos told me they didn’t want me anymore so I was looking for a lifeline there for a while and Canberra gave me that opportunity which I’ll be forever grateful for.
“Ricky has been great for me. He’s given me confidence each week to back myself and play my own game and that’s what I’ve tried to do whilst working within the team structure.
“At the start of the year my goal was to make it through to the first grade side but now that I’m here, I don’t want to lose my spot. There are seven games to go and I’m aiming to play in all seven.
“Hopefully I can keep building my form with each game and help to improve the performances of the team as a result.”
If Baptiste is again selected in the Raiders top 17, the 2011 NYC hooker of the year will have the opportunity to play at GIO Stadium Canberra for the first time in lime green.
“I’m really looking forward to playing at home at GIO Stadium,” he said. “It’s been a while since I’ve actually played in Canberra, I’ve played there in 20’s but that was quite a while ago now.
“I can’t wait to run out there and hopefully get a win for the Raiders over the Rabbitohs.”
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to the match against the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Monday at 7:00pm at GIO Stadium Canberra to watch the Raiders and Baptiste in action.