DANNY Buderus grew up across the road from Taree Recreation Centre. He had his first game of rugby league as a young boy in the Group Three junior competition.
From that day Buderus knew what he wanted to do in life. He wanted to be a rugby league player.
On Wednesday night Buderus, 41, will be inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame, along with former St George great Craig Young and New Zealand internationals Stacey Jones and Ruben Wiki.
Buderus left Taree as a 15-year-old to move to Newcastle to complete his schooling and go into the Knights' system. He made his first grade debut with the Knights in 1997 and played his last game in 2013. In between he played a record 257 games with the Knights, 24 tests for Australia and 21 consecutive State of Origin matches for NSW, where he was captain on 15 occasions.
He led NSW to back-to-back Origin wins in 2004/05, the feat equalled this year by another son of the Manning, Old Bar's Boyd Cordner. Buderus also had a stint in the English Super League with Leeds before returning to finish his career with his beloved Newcastle. Buderus won a premiership with the Knights in 2001.
Buderus was the Dally M player of the year in 2004 and he was the hooker of the year on three occasions.
Buderus played his last game in Group Three as a 16-year-old five-eighth in 1994 with Taree United's premiership winning under 18 side. He was also named the Group Three under 18 player of the year.
"I'm completely humbled by this,'' he told Fox Sport's NRL 360, revealing he found out he was to be inducted into the hall of fame when he was travelling from Newcastle to Sydney, as he does regularly to meet commitments as a commentator with Fox Sports' NRL coverage. For the past two years he has also been on Brad Fittler's coaching staff with the NSW State of Origin side.
"This (rugby league) started as a family affair with my brother, Brock and my mum and dad,'' he added.
Buderus was back to where it all started last month, assisting at a junior league coaching clinic at Taree Recreation Centre.
"This is where I had my first game,'' he said during a Q and A session following the clinic.