CANTERBURY 6 NEWCASTLE 20

Back where he belongs ... Danny Buderus is being tipped for a return to the  State of Origin arena after another eye-catching display yesterday in the Knights’ victory over early-season pacesetters Canterbury.

Back where he belongs ... Danny Buderus is being tipped for a return to the State of Origin arena after another eye-catching display yesterday in the Knights’ victory over early-season pacesetters Canterbury. Photo: Quentin Jones

Five things we learnt from yesterday's game

WHEN Wayne Bennett, a coaching master but also an outsider, joined the Knights, he made a point of bringing home a player who represents, rather than simply plays for, Newcastle. Yesterday, Danny Buderus provided the performance that explained why Bennett showed so much faith in a 34-year-old.

MATCH STATS

Knight on the charge ... Darius Boyd clashes with Josh Morris of the Bulldogs.

Knight on the charge ... Darius Boyd clashes with Josh Morris of the Bulldogs. Photo: Getty Images

''He brings that yesteryear with him and the pride he has in the team and the town,'' Bennett said after Buderus was named man of the match in the 20-6 victory over the Bulldogs. ''He lives it every day. He is what you'd call a real deal. He really is. I just don't know where we'd be without him. He's been absolutely outstanding to the club … I can't give him a big enough rap. He's a 10-out-of-10 bloke on and off the field.''

The signing raised some eyebrows, but Bennett was convinced the former NSW and Australian representative had something to offer. However, even Bennett admitted he was surprised by what Buderus had done since his return from Leeds.

''He hasn't missed a training session, he hasn't missed a beat,'' he said. ''He's been remarkable. At his age and three years in the UK … but it seems to have freshened him up and I think he's really appreciated being back in the NRL.''

Knights 1st try from Richie Fa'aoso. Click for more photos

Knights charge Bulldogs

Knights 1st try from Richie Fa'aoso. Photo: Quentin Jones

So much so that Bennett said Buderus should be the NSW hooker in the State of Origin series this year. ''I hope age is not an issue for Origin because if his form dictates that he should be there, I'd love to see him play there,'' he said.

Yesterday, Buderus went up against NSW incumbent Michael Ennis. This Friday night, he will face the Queensland hooker, Cameron Smith. Smith took Buderus's Australian jumper in 2006, when the Newcastle player withdrew from that year's Tri-Nations tournament. Smith would not relinquish the spot again.

Buderus said his time out of the NRL helped him deal more effectively with the pressure, which will no doubt come with a few more chapters to his rivalry with the Melbourne captain, and the former NSW captain said he had no doubt he could play at that level again.

''Mentally, I think that's the thing,'' he said. ''You have no other option in Origin. The atmosphere, the occasion drags you with it. It jumps up 10 levels because the best players are there. Of course you can drag yourself along to play at that level.

''I have said before I will do anything for my state. But like I said, there are some good hookers there, there is an incumbent and I will have to be playing well to knock him off.''

Buderus returned on a one-year deal to the Knights, but Bennett has told the hooker, a point he reiterated yesterday, that he is welcome to play next year if he wants to.

''It's up to him now,'' Bennett said. ''He's got to get through the year and make sure everything's fine for him and he wants to be there. But I'm not one who wants to get rid of the older players, not when they're playing like he is.''

Buderus said he would make a call on his future midway through the season. For now, he is content to be repaying the faith of his new coach.

''To have Wayne bring me back has put a lot of faith in me … I just want to repay him,'' he said.

''That's the big thing - every game I want to go out there and play well for the club, but also for Wayne for getting me here.''

To hear Buderus explain why he could not return to any other club gave the truest insight into Bennett's words - the reason Buderus means so much to Newcastle is because Newcastle means so much to him.

''The [Leeds] Rhinos meant much to me,'' Buderus said. ''[But] only one club meant more.''

NEWCASTLE 20 (R Fa'aoso A McKinnon J Mullen tries K Gidley 4 goals) bt CANTERBURY 6 (J Romelo try S Turner goal) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Ben Cummins, Phil Haines. Crowd: 21,701.