Questions about the return of Buderus
News of the imminent return of Danny Buderus to the Newcastle Knights for the 2012 season brings with it a host of questions. Will he still be competitive? What will the structure of the team look like? Will it be all worth it?
Buderus’s signing for next year has been hailed by the Knights faithful as a triumphant return of one of their favourite sons, but the expectations will be high for the former hooker of the year.
Realistically I don’t think the Knights have much to lose and have a great deal to gain by re-signing the former Dally M winner. But there will be some serious changes.
Buderus has had a solid stint playing for Leeds, topping it off with a Super League Cup final win. Whilst not playing the full 80 minutes, he has shown he has lost his touch in attack or defence and provex to be a leader on the field for the Rhinos.
However it’s not just his on field performance that the Knights are looking at.
Buderus will bring with him a wealth of experience both of the game and the club itself.
It would not surprise me if new Knights coach Wayne Bennet uses Buderus in a role that was similarly held by Steve Walters when he joined the Knights in 1999, which is to say his primary use will not to be to play extended minutes week in and week out but instead to assist in the off-field development of the playing group with particular focus on developing the Hookers in the club.
In 2011 we saw the emergence of several young and underrated Knights players. Two of special note are Ryan Stig and Matt Hilder. The recruitment of Buderus will have the greatest impact on them.
Hilder was a revelation as a bench replacement for hooker Isaac Degois, shoring up the ruck defensively and giving good service to the halves. That role may not be required behind Buderus, as he can also play effectively at lock or in the second row.
I mention the versatility of Hilder because I believe that is where he will play the majority of the season, barring injury of course, allowing for Ryan Stig to come onto the bench.
Stig had a solid debut season and deserves to continue as part of the first grade squad and will be useful come representative football time.
On the assumption that the Halves will be made up of Jarrod Mullen and Kurt Gidley I would think Stig will take Hilders place on the bench to act as Buderus’s replacement.
This can only be a positive thing for the young player and the team, allowing Stig further first grade experience and adding to his skills set.
Whatever happens next year there are positive signs for the Knights and the return of Danny Buderus will only serve to improve their chances for taking out the Premiership.