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Knights legend helping our future stars ‘Grow’

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There’s a reason why Danny Buderus is one of the most respected and well-liked people in the Hunter… and beyond.

And, it has nothing to do with his rugby league talent or past feats on the playing paddock, as a premiership winner, with the Newcastle Knights.

While he relishes his current role as general manager of football with the NRL club, the 45-year-old’s just as busy away from the sporting scene.

Since he hung up his footy boots in 2013, Buderus is often seen lending a hand to not-for-profit organisations, including the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service (WRHS) and Mark Hughes Foundation (MHF), to name a couple.

Newcastle Knights general manager of football Danny Buderus, Sienna Jopp and head coach Adam O’Brien at the club’s Centre of Excellence.

“It’s hugely imperative for me, supporting various charities in the region,” he said.

“It is a chance to give back to the community.

“The area (Hunter) has given myself and my family so much.

“The stories I hear and the people I meet, the relationships and connections, those things are really important for me.

“I think everyone needs a sense of belonging.

“Plus, it certainly puts things into perspective.

“Ever since (former team-mate) Mark Hughes got diagnosed [with brain cancer], we’ve always understood our role in the community.

“We were lucky to play sport.

“But, at the same time, we now have an opportunity to give back.”

Danny Buderus and Sienna Jopp, a recipient of the Grow A Star scholarship.

Buderus recently joined forces with Home in Place’s Grow a Star initiative.

The innovative, youth mentoring and scholarship scheme helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds overcome the financial or generational obstacles that are preventing them from following their academic, sporting or artistic dreams.

Created by Home in Place, the program is the first of its kind to be designed and operated by a community housing provider.

“I wanted to get behind it because: one, it’s local; and, two, I love the idea of ensuring these kids live out a dream,” he said.

“They’re not from a privileged position, usually they’ve got to fight to gain any opportunity.

“However, some youngsters just need a chance to grow.

“And, that’s what this is all about.

“It’s a fantastic foundation, a great charity.”

Sienna Jopp and Danny Buderus.

Through Grow A Star, Buderus – who was inducted into the NSW Rugby League Hall of Fame last week – encountered a young Indigenous woman with a passion for the sport he’s famous for.

Fourteen-year-old Sienna Jopp represents the Cessnock Goannas… and dreams of becoming an NRLW player one day.

The teenager, supported by her mum Belinda, is using her scholarship to pay for the costs associated with travelling to and attending training with the Hunter Academy of Sport, Specific Sports Training and Tim Browne’s Leading Edge intensive 12-week coaching program for rugby league.

“Yeah, I met a couple of the kids, including Sienna,” he said.

“I loved it.

“You can see it in their eyes and just how appreciative they are to receive a little bit of direction.

“Plus, it’s pretty cool to take them through the Knights Centre of Excellence.

“Just to witness their face, when they get close and meet their NRL idols such as Kalyn Ponga, you can’t put it into words.

“But, if we can change someone’s life for the better, that’s terrific.”

danny buderus
Danny Buderus, who was recently inducted into the NSW Rugby League The Star Hall of Fame.

If anyone is able to show them the way forward, it’s Buderus.

He’s Newcastle’s most capped player, taking the field 257 times between 1997 and 2013.

The Taree-born and bred lad linked up with the Knights as a teenager and represented the Australian Schoolboys while at St Francis Xavier Hamilton in 1995 and 1996.

He made his NRL debut during Newcastle’s premiership year of 1997 and contributed to the club’s second title in 2001.

Buderus then won the Dally M Player of the Year in 2004.

He also played in 24 Test matches for Australia, including four as skipper, and 21 straight games at hooker for NSW in State of Origin.

As well, he captained the Blues a record 15 occasions, including during the team’s series victories in 2004 and 2005.

After a stint at coaching, he moved into administration.

So, what advice does Buderus give those at Grow A Star?

“It’s important to let them know they can achieve anything they put their mind to,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“However, it all starts with hard work… and they understand that.

“You can’t just say you’re going to do it or dream big.

“You’ve still got to work hard to make sure you fulfil your potential.”

Buderus and local netball star Sam Poolman will share their stories of achieving their aspirations at a Grow A Star fundraising luncheon at Noah’s on the Beach on Friday 2 June between 1pm and 3.30pm.

Last year’s function, featuring Olympic gold medallist Steven Bradbury, amassed $20,000.

Tickets are available through https://events.humanitix.com/lunch-for-the-stars-2023-with-danny-buderus-and-sam-poolman

People wishing to apply for scholarships or businesses, individuals and organisations wishing to support scholarships should visit www.growastar.org.

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