The Bombers are delighted to welcome another exciting talent to their Rookie A list in a matter of days, signing Kaine Baldwin for the 2021 season.
Having been offered an AFL lifeline, the 18-year-old athletic forward arrives at Essendon on a one-year deal.
He joins Alec Waterman in signing for the Bombers this week under the AFL’s pre-season supplemental selection period rules.
Hailing from Glenelg, Baldwin played an integral role for South Australia in the 2018 under-16 national championships, earning a reserves berth ahead of the 2019 season before rupturing his ACL.
The 194cm goalkicker made a full recovery ahead of the 2020 season before the same knee buckled in a trial game and again sidelined him, but in an impressive story of resilience, he again made a full recovery to earn a contract with the Bombers.
Baldwin gathered 18 disposals and seven marks in his SANFL under-18s debut, after averaging 21.8 disposals, 9.6 marks and 2.8 goals in a dominant under-16s campaign in 2018.
South Australian under-18 state academy program manager Tony Bamford likened Baldwin’s game to that of Tom Lynch and former Fremantle player Matthew Pavlich as an elite runner with strong hands, suggesting Baldwin was “the best key forward in his age group” when he served as captain of South Australia’s under-16 team.
Baldwin said he was delighted to join the Bombers.
“I’m so excited and grateful to the Essendon Football Club for this opportunity,” Baldwin said.
“I just wanted to work hard and put the most I possibly could into my recovery to try and earn a spot on an AFL list. I’m so appreciative to the Bombers for making this dream come true.
“It’s been a tough couple of years with the knee recovery, but I have put everything into my rehab to make sure I can get the most out of my body, but I’m feeling really good now and I can’t wait to wear the red and black and repay the faith the club has shown in me this season.”
General manager of list and recruiting Adrian Dodoro said the Bombers were thrilled to sign an exciting young forward in Baldwin.
“We’re really pleased to offer Kaine this opportunity. He has overcome his fair share of adversity through injury in recent years, but we think he is a bright young talent who will offer plenty to our side,” Dodoro said.
“Kaine is an athletic young talent who was touted as a first-round potential, and he has the ability to become an important, high-marking forward for us in years to come.
“Our medical and high-performance team are confident they will see Kaine make a full rehabilitation from his knee injury over the coming months and are optimistic he will have a long and sustained AFL career.
“We think Kaine will form an exciting combination in our forward line with the likes of Harrison Jones and Peter Wright, Archie Perkins and Alec Waterman over years to come, so we’re pleased Kaine will take a hold of this opportunity to be part of the Bombers. We look forward to seeing what he can achieve this season."
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