2017 NRL - Grant Trouville © NRL Photos

From Soccer to Rugby League

It’s crazy to think that in 2016, Cronulla Sharks’ Women’s Series star winger, Jordan Baker, was playing Football for the Western Sydney Wanderers.

It’s even crazier to think that in 2017, Baker played her first ever game of Rugby League.

Hailing from the world of Football, the 20-year-old was selected for the Young Matilda’s (2014, 2015) and Australian Schoolgirls sides (2013, 2014), while Baker has also played an impressive four seasons for the Western Sydney Wanderers’ strong W-League side (2013 – 2016).

This year, the Gymea local traded Red and Black for Black, White and Blue… taking on the challenge of learning a completely new sport.

“Rugby League had never been an option due to my commitments to soccer, but this year, I was able to give it a go,” Baker said.

“I love watching the game. I saw both the Sharks and the Auckland Nines sides play last year and I really enjoyed the high standard on display.”

Just months ago, Baker played her first ever game of Rugby League with the Sharks Women’s Series Side in the Central Coast 9’s competition.

Baker revealed that despite her experience playing Football at an elite level, she was extremely nervous in the lead up to her Rugby League debut.

“We had trained for a while. I had been practicing hard and learning the correct tackling techniques. But I’d never played an actual game before. I had no idea what to expect,” she said.

“My nerves quickly disappeared after I had to make my first tackle… I got smashed. Then I scored my first try… and I was hooked.”

The transition from Football to Rugby League has been a smooth one for Baker, after playing many different sports over the years, she said that she found it easy pick up the tackling, passing and kicking skills required.

“Tackling came naturally to me,” Baker said. “Growing up with older brothers, I was exposed to sport and footy. We played tackle footy outside our house. I learnt quickly that if I wanted to play with the boys, I’d have to play and tackle like them.”

The Sharks’ winger admitted that while Football and Rugby League are completely different sports, her background in Soccer has come in handy at times.   

“My ability to read play, to predict and react to what will happen next, has been vital. The hardest part is remembering that I’m not using just my feet anymore – that I’m catching and throwing the ball,” she explained.

When she’s not playing Rugby League, Baker is playing soccer for the Sutherland Sharks and believes that more women should give Rugby League a go.

“There are many talented women out there who have the ability to play other codes. I believe that women and young girls should be able to play as many sports as they want.”

Baker said that she has thoroughly enjoyed her time so far with the Cronulla Sharks.

“I like the drive and passion the girls show both on and off the field to build pathways for young girls and women who currently or will one-day play Rugby League.”

“I love being a part of what we’re building at the Sharks,” Baker added.