KNIGHTS skipper Danny Buderus has learnt to live with the Achilles tendonitis that threatened his NRL comeback season and ended his chances of a State of Origin swansong.
The 34-year-old former NSW and Australian captain had been pencilled in to wear the Blues’ No.9 jersey this year but those plans were scrapped after he suffered an Achilles flare-up in Newcastle’s 34-14 victory over Penrith on April 30.
He missed two NRL matches and the chance to return to the representative arena, and some Knights insiders were concerned about his ability to play for long periods when he did resume.
Coach Wayne Bennett carried specialist dummy half Chris Adams on the bench to give the evergreen rake a breather in three games midway through the season but Buderus has bounced back to his best in the past month, leading Newcastle to three wins from their past four games.
Buderus has averaged 73.5 minutes on the field in the past four matches, which included playing all 80 minutes against the Eels on June 30.
He has averaged 39.5 tackles a game in that stretch and provided more of an attacking spark from dummy half.
‘‘It’s there. It’s bearable at the moment,’’ Buderus said of his painful Achilles condition.
‘‘For the first little bit when you run around, it’s just one of those things that I’ve got used to and one of those things where you’ve just got to keep on top of it.
‘‘From an 80-minute player, which I never thought that I would be when I came back, like I said, it’s a challenge each game and I’m enjoying it, so that’s the main thing.’’
Buderus said the Knights’ resurgence had been a direct result of their improved ball-handling and willingness to defend their errors.
‘‘It helps when you control the ball, and we have been doing that the past month,’’ he said.
‘‘That’s why we’re winning games, because we’re controlling the ball and on the back of that we’ve got effort to really defend well.
‘‘We had a hiccup against Souths but we backed up against Manly with a good win there, and if we finish the month off on a good note, that would be a good result for us.’’
The Knights will fly to Auckland today to prepare for their game against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night, and Buderus said the players were in good spirits after their morale-boosting 32-6 victory over defending premiers Manly at Hunter Stadium last Saturday.
But he said they had to consolidate that performance against the Warriors, and again when they travel to the national capital to challenge the Raiders on July 29.
‘‘We’ve won a few games in the last month but to finish off the month we’ve got a tough road trip over to New Zealand then we’re down to Canberra,’’ he said.
‘‘To back up last week, I’m glad we won, to get some confidence to go over to New Zealand, because it’s obviously one of the hardest road trips in the NRL.
‘‘It’s always tough. You know what you’re getting over there.
‘‘It’s a grinding game and if you don’t turn up, it’s very unenjoyable, so we need to play as good as we can to get away with the win over there.
‘‘The Warriors are big across the park but on the back of that they’ve got some skilful little players like Kevin Locke and Shaun Johnson.
‘‘So all in all, defensively we’ve got to be at the top of our game and we need to do a job on their forwards, somehow get in their faces, and slow them down a bit.’’