'Unsettled' Baptiste relishing Roosters chance after swift Super League sojourn
Roosters back-up hooker Kurt Baptiste says it would be an understatement to describe the early part of his 2018 as "unsettled".
Forced out of Canberra over the off-season to help to alleviate the club's salary cap pressures – despite having a year to run on his deal and the club already having lost senior No.9 Josh Hodgson to an ACL injury for the bulk of the year – the 27-year-old PNG international quickly found the rest of the NRL had mostly filled their rosters as far as hookers were concerned.
Desperate for a gig, Baptiste ended up in the north of England, signed with second-tier Leigh Centurions who are based just outside Manchester, wondering if his Telstra Premiership days were over.
Baptiste barely had time to put down a deposit on a house and start buying furniture when the Roosters tossed him a lifeline, looking for depth behind co-captain Jake Friend.
"It was [unsettling], it really was," Baptiste said leading into his second game for the Roosters when they travel to Auckland to face the Warriors on Saturday.
"I didn't know what I was doing there for a while, I was out of the country for a couple of weeks, then I was back again.
"Moving across the other side of the world then all the way back, it does get a bit unsettling. That's probably an understatement. I'm just glad to settle down now, even though it's only for the year at this stage I feel a bit settled now and hopefully can focus on footy."
Sorting out work visas and so on at short notice was only the start of the headaches, according to Baptiste.
"I bought all the stuff for my house over there, only just moved in. Lost my deposit on the place and had to chuck all my stuff out," he laughed.
"That's the sort of things you have to go through but that's footy these days, you don't know where you can end up even if you do have a contract so you just had to deal with it.
"I was in Leigh then moved to Salford and was there for about two weeks in the new place then got the opportunity to come back, that was only a couple of days then I was straight out of there."
Not that Baptiste is complaining about the move back to Sydney.
"I had a contract at Canberra for this year but the way it worked out I sort of got forced out of there. Then I was over in England with Leigh, they're in the second division so once the opportunity came up to come back and potentially play NRL again this year I took it with both hands.
"I'm really enjoying it here. The boys are great, coaches are great and I'm loving the area as well."
Baptiste said his first preference was to earn an extended deal with the Roosters, and while he would not rule out a return to Canberra, NRL.com understands he was told by the club if he had stayed for the final year of his contract he would not have been considered for first grade.
"Since I signed [with Leigh], I didn't know if I'd play an NRL game this year but when I got the chance to sign with the Roosters I thought this is a chance to get in the side and hopefully work my way into that top 17 and once I'm there hopefully I can try to stay there," he added.
"At this stage I haven't got anything for next year."