The Canberra Raiders this morning announced fan favourite depth hooker Kurt Baptiste will join the club on a short-term contract for the remainder of the 2020 season.
Baptiste will join his teammates later in the week once he’s followed the necessary protocols to join the club’s Apollo Group.
While hookers Saliva Havili and Tom Starling have done an excellent job since co-captain Josh Hodgson suffered a season-ending ACL injury against Melbourne, Baptiste will provide injury cover to the squad in a season where such depth has proved essential.
His signing also opens up the possibility of Baptise playing hooker in tandem with Starling, which would allow Havili to revert to playing as a bench forward.
Born in Brisbane, the 29-year-old Papua New Guinea international played 56 games for the Raiders between 2014 and 2017.
He was a key cog in the Raiders’ 2016 golden run, playing 24 of the club’s 27 matches that season, often coming off the bench as a foil for first string rake Josh Hodgson.
He left in 2018 for a one-match stint at Leigh Centurions in England before returning to the NRL to play for the Sydney Roosters and the North Queensland Cowboys.
He was set to play for the Easts Tigers in the Queensland Intrust Super Cup competition this year but is available to Canberra due to the cancellation of the 2020 competition owing to COVID-19 restrictions.
Baptiste has played 79 NRL matches since making his debut in 2011.
Raiders recruitment and high-performance director, Peter Mulholland, said Baptiste is a talented hooker with a proven record here in Canberra.
“(Baptiste) can provide our squad with experience and depth in a key position,” Mulholland said.
“We’re really happy to have him back at the club for the remainder of the year and we’re looking forward to him joining the squad as soon as he can.”
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