Touch star off to Youth World Cup
By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au
GLADSTONE touch star Matt Baker is counting down the days until he realises a career highlight by representing Australia at the Youth World Cup at Kawana Waters next week.
Baker, 19, will line up in the Australian mixed under-20s side which will take on under-18 and under-20 opponents from New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Thailand.
He will don the green and gold for the third successive year but yesterday left no doubt that representing his country in World Cup competition was a dream realised ? especially if Australia was victorious.
"I'm really excited just to be playing in the World Cup,'' Baker said. "Just to be able to say we're the best in the world would be great.''
Baker departs for the Sunshine Coast on Friday to train and prepare for the Cup which gets under way next Wednesday with the Australian under-20s taking on New Zealand's under-18s in their opening encounter.
Although most nations are not represented in each of the men's, women's and mixed competitions, the Cup will still boast an international flavour with other teams representing Samoa, Lebanon, India, South Africa and Norfolk Island.
Baker said Australia's mixed u/20 side was a strong one, having already attended two training camps with his team-mates, and believed the New Zealand u/18 and u/20 sides would most likely be the toughest to beat in his division.
The speedster, who also turns out for the Wallabys rugby league team, said he was looking forward to playing in front of a crowd which would cheer on the Australians.
He will also have the support of his family, well-known in Gladstone touch circles, who will travel with him to the three-day Cup.