Accountability key for young Knights: Buderus
Player accountability will prove the difference for Newcastle's young squad in 2016 according to club legend and assistant coach Danny Buderus.
Taking the reins for the final six games of last year following Rick Stone's untimely sacking, Buderus has seen over 1100 games of experience lost since, with Jeremy Smith the only player in his 30s remaining at the club.
As it stands almost half of Newcastle's extended squad are yet to play first grade, with rookies Jaelen Feeney, Brock Lamb, Pat Mata'utia, Will Pearsall and twins Daniel and Jacob Saifiti named to play at the Nines this weekend by new coach Nathan Brown.
With the wooden spoon hanging over their heads from last season Buderus said it's time for the whole squad to put their hand up moving forward, no matter the circumstances.
"It's all about player accountability and what they can do to be the best they can. The more responsibility and emphasis you can give back to the players, the better," Buderus told NRL.com.
"If you look back through our whole club there's not many guys there who are natural leaders but they have to come through now. That's what our game needs and what our club needs. You can't succeed in this game now if you don't take some accountability.
"There are 16 guys at the moment in our full-time squad that haven't played in the NRL so in many ways they are going to get an opportunity. It's exciting at the same time but also nerve-racking because you just don't know what's to come of it."
Never a man to doubt one's ability, Buderus still admitted he underestimated what Brown was to bring to the table throughout the first few months of his tenure – in what has been the former St Helens mentor's first pre-season back in Australia since 2008.
"I knew [Brown] was going to be a good operator but I've been surprised with how he's handled things. Not only in his knowledge of the game, but also the relationships he has across the game," Buderus said.
"It's been impressive. It's only going to put him in good stead, but more importantly it's going to put the club in a good situation as well.
"In many ways we are starting again and there are guys in the squad that are young, very young in fact, and they'll probably get a start this year."
Juggling his responsibilities with the Knights with his duties as an NRL ambassador in 2016, Buderus too is ready for the personal challenges which lie ahead.
Three years since retiring Buderus is still finding reward in rugby league, especially when it comes to his ambassadorship opportunities.
"Any opportunity I get to go back to my own area or to schools around the area is fantastic. The kids just love it. You have to remember when you were a kid and how much it meant to see guys around," Buderus said.
"I run free coaching clinics as well so it's been great to see the kids get amongst it, so all the stuff I've learnt at the [NRL Ambassador camps] I've tried to implement that into the community and especially into those clinics.
"It's not just about sport either, it's about the way they eat and being the best you can be. Obviously not everyone will go on to have careers in the game but as long as they get something out of it that's what it's all about."