Knights enforcer Mitch Barnett has secured his second Danny Buderus Medal in the space of three seasons, edging out NSW Origin representatives David Klemmer and Mitchell Pearce to be acknowledged as Newcastle’s Player of the Year.
Barnett, who won the same award in 2017, was presented with the medal by Buderus at the Knights’ annual awards presentation at Newcastle’s NEX Club on Wednesday night.
The 25-year-old Wingham junior played the first two games off the bench but forced his way into the starting pack, switching between the edge and the middle as required, to play 21 of a possible 24 games. He missed three while suspended for a crusher tackle on Melbourne’s Jahrome Hughes.
Through the peaks and troughs of Newcastle’s roller-coaster year, Barnett was their most consistent performer and was one of only a handful of players who maintained his high standards during the team’s dramatic collapse in the final two months of the regular season.
“He epitomises the Danny Buderus label in that he is a real team performer,” Knights director of football Brian Canavan said.
“Mitch has always led by actions and deeds but particularly in the latter part of the season, his leadership evolved into more overt and verbal leadership.
“With actions and words, both at the highest level, you have a very high-level leader.”
Barnett, who joined the Knights from Canberra midway through 2016, scored a career-high seven tries, made 22 tackle breaks, and averaged 35 tackles and 82 metres a game.
Klemmer, Pearce and utility Connor Watson were the other nominees for the Danny Buderus Medal, which Kalyn Ponga won in 2018.
Barnett also received the club’s Gladiator Award, Pearce was voted Players’ Player of the Year, 18-year-old centre Bradman Best won Rookie of the Year, Watson was named Community Player of the Year, and long-serving medical officer Dr Peter McGeoch was the Club Person of the Year.
Jersey Flegg Award Winners
Players’ Player of the Year: Mathew Croker
Player of the Year: Luke Huth
Canterbury Cup NSW Award Winners
Players’ Player of the Year: Jacob Saifiti
Player of the Year: Tex Hoy