Newcastle Knights legend Danny Buderus has revealed how he continues to work behind the scenes at his former club despite cutting ties 12 months ago in a bid to prolong his coaching career.
A burnt-out Buderus felt the brunt of two brutal seasons as an interim and assistant coach at the Knights during 2015 and 2016, opting to make way at season's end to chase a fresh career path as Nathan Brown continues the club's bid to get back in finals contention.
The former Australian Test captain was rushed into the head coaching role following Rick Stone's shock sacking with five games remaining in 2015 – the first of three consecutive wooden spoon seasons for the Knights.
"I wasn't prepared to say I was a career coach," Buderus told NRL.com.
"When I was at Newcastle it was a furnace and all happening up there. I'd just played for 17 years and didn't want to go straight into being a head coach in that furnace.
"I needed to step out at that time. I'm glad I did. The club has fully transformed since I've been there. There were a lot of hard years and it looks a lot better now because of that."
While the Knights continue to improve on and off the paddock, Buderus was approached by the NSWRL to take on various roles in the player pathways system – more recently enjoying success as under-20 head coach and Fittler's assistant for the upcoming State of Origin series.
Along the way he's worked with some of the game's rising stars including Melbourne Storm premiership winner Curtis Scott and South Sydney Rabbitohs back-rower Cameron Murray.
"At the same time I wanted to stay involved with the game and keep a finger on the pulse," Buderus said.
"I like the individual part of coaching, I like the football part of it but there's a lot more to it people don't realise – list management and getting things together.
"It's been a really good thing for me to step aside and try something different. I've been doing these pathways for a while now. It's just great to help Fred (Fittler) out and understand how he works.
"You want to see these guys keep progressing and stay in this program. The whole idea is to come through together to the seniors and have success."
Buderus and eighth immortal Andrew Johns reportedly played their part in luring rising star Kalyn Ponga and incumbent Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce to the Knights despite not being employed in an official capacity.
The former Taree junior said it was only natural to help his former club with recruitment.
"I speak to Nathan a fair bit and some staff but there is a lot of good news there," Buderus said.
"They're getting the combinations right and that's the big thing, who's going to play where and who with. That might take a few weeks into the season to go through some experiences. I'd like to think midway through the season there will be some really entertaining footy and toughness.
"It's a pretty easy sell once you get up there, it's just about getting the guys to come up. You can't do a deal through an office. You talk to them about the town, people and how much they want their team to succeed.
"As a player to go there see all that, and then imagine what it would be like if things start to go well. The new recruits are all willing to play with the young boys and are open to the opportunity of building something special."