Forget Andrew Johns, Scott Dureau will be looking to establish himself as a future star in his own right.
The Knights clash with the Titans at Skilled Park on Sunday, but with competition for places at an all-time high, he still has a battle on his hands to claim the coveted position.
Filling the Knights halfback role is one of the toughest gigs in Rugby League, but Dureau’s heroics last season proved that Newcastle have a playmaker with exciting potential.
In just his third game in first grade, Dureau kicked a match-winning field goal against eventual Premiers the Manly Sea Eagles, proof that the kid from Taree was a star in the making.
It was no fluke.
He repeated the feat against Grand Finalists Melbourne in Round 25, giving Danny Buderus an emotional and fitting farewell in front of nearly 20,000 adoring Novacastrians.
And while the Johns shadow may long be cast over EnergyAustralia Stadium, Dureau, 22, is now planning to make his own name in 2009 and make the famous Newcastle number seven jersey his own.
“Danny Buderus’s farewell game against the Storm in Round 25 was probably the toughest game I have ever played in,” Dureau said.
“To get the win by one point is something I’ll never forget. It was a massive confidence boost knowing that I could really control the team and lead from the front in such a close game and against one of the best teams in the competition.
“It was good to get those field goals and good for the team to get those wins. The game against the Storm was probably one of the best games we played all year and I think I was just the lucky one that got to put the field goal over.”
With only 19 games in the NRL, Dureau is looking to build on his breakthrough season and while his match-winning feats have given him confidence, the Port Macquarie Sharks junior is the first to admit he has a long way to go to secure the Knights halfback role on a permanent basis.
“This year I just really want to cement my spot in first grade and hopefully try to stay injury free,” he said.
“There is so much competition within ourselves at the moment, everyone is just training the house down to try and cement their own spot in the team.
“Jarrod Mullen and Ben Rogers have both been playing at five-eighth and myself and Luke Walsh have been playing a bit of halfback, so we have been chopping and changing in those positions throughout the pre-season.
“I think there are going to be some really good combinations in the team this year because we have a lot of depth.
“It is making us all better players because we have to fight for our spot. It is making us train harder and play harder, I think it is better for everyone.”Dream Team watch – Scott Dureau is a $147,600 rated halfback in Toyota NRL Dream Team 2009. Register to play now.