Orange Emus centre Aidan Baker only gave rugby union a crack in 2017 “to try something different”, so he certainly wasn’t expecting the decision to help him land a gig in Singapore.
That’s what he’s got though, the 19-year-old flies out for the 2017 Singapore Cricket Club International Sevens on November 1, where he’ll line-up for East Arnhem against some of the best players in the world.
The Orange CYMS junior – who also represented Group 10 and Western during his time in the 13-man code – admits he’s got no clue what to expect considering he’s never played the modified version of rugby before, but, he was never turning down an opportunity as rare as this one.
“I got a call after going away with Central West earlier in the year, I certainly wasn’t expecting it but you definitely don’t pass up this kind of opportunity,” Baker said.
Baker’s East Arnhem side is predominantly made up of guns from the Northern Territory and Queensland, and is set to face the likes of Papua New Guinea, France’s development squad, the Swedish Vikings and the Hong Kong Dragons.
“I’m excited, really excited,” he said.
“A little bit nervous too I guess, there’s going to be some seriously talented players there and our coach was telling me we’ve got the youngest side in the competition, so we’ll see how we go.
“I’m not really sure what my role in the side will be, I daresay I’ll be out in the backs somewhere though.”
The heat and humidity in Singapore is one thing Baker’s identified as a challenge, one he’s been preparing for since his selection.
“I’ve been training pretty hard since I got the phone call,” he said.
I wasn’t expecting it but you don’t pass up this kind of opportunity.- East Arnhem's Aidan Baker
“It’s good it’s starting to heat up in Orange now and I work at night, so I can train during the heat of the day but even so, I think it’ll be something else in Singapore. The humidity will be a challenge too.
“My teammates will be used to it being from up north, so it’s something I’ll have to deal with.”
Considering his rapid rise through the ranks of the 15-man code, Baker admitted he hasn’t given any thought to returning to league.
For context, Baker was picked in Central West’s colts side despite his lack of experience and plenty consider him desperately unlucky to have missed out on a NSW Country jersey after a barnstorming showing for the Baby Bulls.
“I don’t think I’ll go back to league, I think I’ll stay in rugby now,” he said.
“I only came across to try something different but I really enjoyed it. Emus were incredible in what they did for us as colts last season and the experience I was given in second grade toward the back end of the year was really helpful as well. I really enjoyed all of it.
“I’m actually hoping this competition can potentially be a stepping stone for me on the way to a career in rugby, or sevens. That’s the dream anyway.”
He earned himself a Blowes Clothing Cup premiership medal in reserve grade too, and Baker said he’s hoping he can bring some of his experience in Singapore back to the greens.
“Definitely, anything I learn I’ll try and bring back to Emus, I’m sure some of it will be helpful next season,” Baker said.
The Singapore Cricket Club International Sevens run from November 3-5 at The Padang.