Never finished bottom four: Bennett faces greatest coaching challenge getting Dolphins off the ground
Wayne Bennett has never finished in the bottom four as a coach, next year that might change the way things are looking.
The final ride lasted longer than he could ever have imagined, but it was never meant to end this way for Danny Buderus.
Not with the champion Newcastle hooker laid out on the back of a medicab, knocked out by a vicious yet legal bump from Sydney Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in Saturday night’s NRL preliminary final.
Buderus was just doing what he had done countless times during his 257 games for the Knights – putting his body on the line with no fear of punishment.
It was obvious from the moment of contact that the 35-year-old was in trouble, his head thumping into the Allianz Stadium turf.
Play was held up for 10 minutes, with former teammate and Channel Nine commentator Andrew Johns later reporting Buderus had been unconscious for “two to three minutes”.
Johns left his sideline seat and accompanied Buderus’ wife Kris up the tunnel to await Buderus’ arrival in the dressing room.
But first there was a standing ovation – from Roosters fans and Knights fans alike – for a champion player many will vouch was an even better bloke as he made his way from the field in a neck brace.
Initial reports suggested there was no damage to his neck – but he was taken to nearby St Vincent’s hospital for precautionary scans.
Heavy underdogs going into the contest, there was every chance this was going to be Buderus’ and Newcastle’s finale. It proved just that with the Knights going down 40-14.
Season 2013 was his last hurrah, having returned to Newcastle last year after three seasons in Super League with Leeds.
He deserved to go out under his own steam, but it will do little to diminish the feats of one of the game’s greats.