LOCAL rugby league young gun Jodeci Baker will play in the curtain-raiser match to the annual Charity Shield clash between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons.
The Alexandra Hills State High School year 11 student will play in the Queensland Murri team in the Under 16s Indigenous State of Origin match against the New South Wales Koori team in Mudgee on March 2.
Baker said it was an honour to be representing his culture and his family.
“I’ve been playing since I was 7 (so) I was brought up with (rugby league),” Baker said.
“My dad, cousins and uncles played a lot, so I just really grew up around it.”
Baker said although he was feeling some nerves in the lead-up to the game, playing in school teams and with his club in Carina would hold him in good stead.
“(Playing for school and the club has) helped me get mentally stronger and become a better player,” he said.
“I’m expecting (the match) to be tough, fast-paced and challenging.”
The match will be part of a busy season for Baker, who was accepted into the North Queensland Cowboys Academy last year.
The Academy supports the development of young rugby league players.
“I got contracted last year while playing in the state championship,” he said.
“I go to Townsville a couple of times a year and train, and do academy training (in Brisbane as well).”
“Eventually I hope to make the NRL,” he said.
“For this year I’m just going to keep working hard and making all the rep teams I can.”
The Under 16 Indigenous State of Origin match will be played at Glen Willow Regional Sports Stadium in Mudgee, New South Wales from 5:30pm before the Charity Shield game.