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Buderus fired up for Wembley decider

By Ian Laybourn 26/08/2010 12:41:48 PM Comments (0)

The feverish build-up to Saturday's Challenge Cup final has provided Danny Buderus with a poignant reminder of just why he gave up his stellar career in Australia to join Leeds Rhinos.

Buderus arrived at Headingley 18 months ago with a reputation as one of the finest hookers of the modern era, having played in 24 Tests for his country, made a record 21 consecutive State of Origin appearances for NSW and worn the number nine shirt more than 200 times for his beloved Newcastle Knights.

But even his former Knights team-mate Andrew Johns, one of the true legends of the game, will be envious of his best friend when he gets to run out against Warrington in front of a sell-out crowd at Wembley on Saturday.

"That's why you come to a club like Leeds, to feature in an occasion like this," said Buderus.

"It was a huge attraction. Just realising the prestige, I have made no secret to my family in private that this is a huge occasion.

"I'd really love to win this one. It would be a dream but the reality is that it's going to be a tough, tough gig to do."

It is 11 years since Leeds' last Wembley appearance but Buderus has arguably more reasons than his team-mates to relish the occasion after missing out on the club's third successive Grand Final triumph at Old Trafford last October.

The 32-year-old missed the start of his first season in Super League after undergoing shoulder surgery and was forced to sit out the World Club Challenge against Manly Sea Eagles in March because of a knee injury sustained on his Rhinos debut.

The agony worsened when he broke a leg at Wigan in July which ended his season but he never gave up hope of sampling the big time with his new team-mates and played in this year's World Club Challenge against Melbourne.

"Last year I got to sit back and watch the club go about their business in the big games and I knew the opportunity to play in another trophy would come around soon," said Buderus, who won the Grand Final with Newcastle in 2001.

"I'm very honoured to be in the Leeds team that can experience an occasion like Saturday.

"I've had a good run over my career and played in some games that as a kid you never thought you'd play in and I had to look on the bright side and know that there would be another occasion."

Buderus' Wembley debut will be witnessed by his father Gus and brother Brock who are flying in from Australia this week.

"My family have just gone back after a month here but my dad and brother are going to turn around and come back," he said.

Buderus' mate Johns, meanwhile, will be an interested spectator from afar with a foot in both camps, having made three appearances for Warrington at the end of the 2005 season and coached them earlier this year.

"He stayed at my place when he came over here coaching them in the off-season and he was one of the first to text me when we won the semi," he said.

"He's very excited for me but obviously he's got strong ties to Warrington and their owner Simon Moran.

"He loves Warrington and all the boys there so, although personally he'd like me to go well, as a team he'd like to see Warrington win.

"That puts it in perspective. He's one of the best players to have played the game but hasn't experienced a Wembley final.

"He would love to have done that. It's something you don't take for granted and something to tell your kids and grandkids about."

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