DANNY BUDERUS was so upset by the negative reaction at his decision to miss the City-Country match, he was seriously thinking of making himself unavailable for State of Origin - until a breakfast meeting yesterday with three people whose opinions he respects most turned him around.
Newcastle locals told the Herald Buderus was at a table with NSW coach Ricky Stuart and two of the Knights hooker's former teammates, Andrew Johns and Adam MacDougall, at the Three Bean Espresso cafe in the Newcastle suburb of Hamilton.
And we have learnt that although Buderus had been wondering whether it was all worth it, the trio of former Blues stars convinced him otherwise.
But a physical battle still looms for Buderus in the shape of an Achilles tendon injury he cited as the reason he stood down from the Country team and which forced him from the field just before half-time of Newcastle's win over Penrith on Monday.
Scans cleared Buderus of a tendon tear, but it is understood there is considerable inflammation around the area and that, although the 34-year-old was yesterday named in the Newcastle side to play Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Sunday, he is considered no chance of playing.
Buderus may struggle to be fit for Newcastle's following game as well, against North Queensland at Hunter Stadium on Saturday week. The day after that game, the NSW team will be named for game one of the series against Queensland, at Etihad Stadium on May 23.
The challenge for a player in this position is to avoid letting his desire to play Origin convince him to take a potentially career-ending risk with an injury, but former NSW captain Buderus is regarded as too experienced to make the wrong call.
In the Knights dressing room after the game against the Panthers, Buderus made it clear how the criticism, which included an unsuccessful call from Country officials for the ARL Commission to stand him down for one club game, had affected him.
''It was disappointing - highly disappointing,'' he said. ''I've always put any jersey that I've represented first. For once in my life I put myself first and I got shot down for it, which was pretty disappointing, but that's rugby league in this country.''
Buderus has been pencilled in as the NSW hooker since early in the season, and his versatile Knights teammate, Kurt Gidley, was to play off the bench to give him a rest at some stage and also act as cover for the halves and fullback. But now Gidley is out of the Origin series with a dislocated left shoulder, also suffered against Penrith, which is expected to end his season. The NSW camp considers the loss of Gidley a huge blow.
''There's nothing else like him,'' Blues assistant coach Trent Barrett said yesterday. ''Kurt Gidley's been one of our best and most consistent players the last few years, and he's going to be sorely missed if his shoulder's as bad as they're saying. You can't replace blokes like him.''
If NSW were to lose Buderus on top of Gidley it would make the selection process particularly difficult, because a player who might have been identified as a reasonable replacement for Gidley may have to be considered for a starting role instead.
Several players would be in the frame for the starting hooker spot if Buderus was forced out. They are Ryan Hinchcliffe (Melbourne), who is also comfortable in the back row, Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers) and last year's Blues No.9 Michael Ennis (Canterbury).
There has been speculation Farah might be out of the running, but Stuart said in his newspaper column on Sunday, when discussing the merits of various players who might figure in the squad at some stage of the series: ''I like Robbie Farah's football and I can use his creativity.''