A valued player for the Counties Steelers since 2010, 25-year-old Baden was chosen to play for the Auckland Blues in 2013-2014. But 2015 brings with it new goals and a brand new horizon.
For the past two months he’s been living in London with fiancée, Jo Twyford, 25. The high school sweethearts moved over in February of this year to further their careers. The couple was engaged in November last year, and when Baden’s contract ended with the Auckland Blues they both felt ready to take on a new chapter in their lives.
Baden is always looking for new ways to improve as a person and as a player. He sees traveling and new experiences as an “awesome opportunity” to be able to do so.
“London offered dual opportunities for the both of us, so it was the right decision for our careers,” says Jo.
Having signed with the Saracens – a North London based team – and due to start the season in July of this year, Baden’s UK experience was fast-tracked.
He was lucky enough to be picked up by Mike Rayer of the Bedford Blues. Mike and the team gave Baden the opportunity to play a few games for some “UK experience and game time”. Something Baden says he’s very grateful for as his time with the Bedford Blues has been a positive learning experience.
“They enjoy using the ball, having a go and playing with real width, which is a lot different to other teams in the competition who can be very forward oriented,” he says. A refreshing change for the south Auckland bred Kiwi.
While Baden focuses on his rugby career, Jo is busy working at hers behind the scenes. Jo left her job in New Zealand as the online editor and social media manager for NZ Girl to travel with her fiancé. She picked up a contract for a few months with the Saracens managing the social media aspects of the club and is now freelancing.
It’s too early to say how long the couple will be over there for.
Baden says, “I want to give it a really good crack and if things work out well I can see myself staying longer, but rugby and professional sports are a funny industry where there are no guarantees or promises.”