Danny Buderus in action for the Knights against Parramatta in Newcastle on September 8, 2013.
Danny Buderus in action for the Knights against Parramatta in Newcastle on September 8, 2013.

Buderus: forever grateful for something I never saw coming

I WAS driving on the M1 last week when I received one of the most amazing phone calls of my life.

"You're going to be inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame" - I thought I was dreaming.

I took a second or two after the phone call to do something that I had never done before, reflect on my career.

My rugby league journey started as a five-year-old when I followed my brother and his mates to the Taree Red Rovers looking for a game of footy.

As a kid I was never the quickest, strongest or most skilful, but I was always determined and trained my backside off.

Michael O'Connor and Michael Beattie came to Taree for a presentation night when I was eight years old and it was then and there I decided I wanted to be a rugby league player for the Dragons.

My high school maths teacher nominated me for a Dragons trial when I was 15 after he saw an ad in the Big League magazine. I remember getting out on the field and in 30 minutes I didn't touch the ball once.

Needless to say I didn't make the cut.

An opportunity then arose to trial for the Newcastle Knights' SG Ball side. It was an all-day trial and I fared a little better and managed to make the squad.

Leaving Taree as a 15-year-old wasn't an easy thing to do, but I left knowing I wasn't going to allow myself to let my family and the people of Taree down.

When I arrived in Newcastle, the club had a host of great halves, Matthew and Andrew Johns were carving it up in first grade, and Brett and Craig Kimmorely were coming through the grades, as were Brett and Troy Finch.

The Knights' Danny Buderus and Andrew Johns acknowledge the crowd's applause after a win over Canberra Raiders in Newcastle.
The Knights' Danny Buderus and Andrew Johns acknowledge the crowd's applause after a win over Canberra Raiders in Newcastle.

During my first two years in first grade, I played off the bench, in the centres and at fullback, before finally cementing the hooking role in 1999 following an injury to Steve Walters - a great mentor for me both on and off the field.

He brought that Canberra mentality to the Knights and taught me how important it was to remember that when I pulled on the jersey I wasn't only representing the club, but the town.

I was lucky enough to play in some great sides in Newcastle and blessed to play inside arguably the best player in the game's history, Andrew Johns, and under one of the greatest minds in the game's history, Warren Ryan.

We had such an amazing group of men at the Knights who achieved so many great things together. We won premierships together, we represented our state and country together and to this day we remain lifelong friends.

Every professional sportsperson will tell you how important their family and friends are to the success of their career, and I'm no different. Mum, Dad and my brother Brock sacrificed so much to allow me to chase my dream. Dad is an emotional guy and I know he'll have a tear in his eye tonight.

My wife, Kris, and son and daughter have been a tremendous support both during and after my playing career, and this achievement is as much theirs as it is mine.

To share a stage tonight with greats such as Craig Young, Stacey Jones and Ruben Wiki and to have my name join a list with the other inductees already in the Hall of Fame is something I thought would never be possible, but something I'll be forever grateful for.

Don't miss the 2019 NRL Hall of Fame Induction, LIVE and EXCLUSIVE, on FOX LEAGUE tonight from 8pm.

News Corp Australia

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