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Thoughts of self-preservation had to be missing from the mind of any man who attempted a ball-and-all tackle on Shane Webcke in his prime.

It's something former New South Wales hooker and captain Danny Buderus can attest to.

He recalls the opening game of the 2003 State of Origin series. The first Origin game at the newly refurbished Suncorp Stadium, with a superb 52,429-strong crowd packed within. The scene was set for an absolute showdown between the two states and it was telling from the moment the ref's whistle blew.

An Andrew Johns kick-off would start proceedings, with the ball bouncing to Webcke. Without a thought, Buderus led the charge downfield for the Blues.

With the former Brisbane prop battling his way out of the Maroons' in-goal, the Newcastle great launched himself straight at the Queensland front-rower. A decision that would see Webcke send Buderus flying the other way.

"It probably wasn't the smartest thing to do," Buderus admits to "I've always been that sort of person. I lead with my actions more than I talk, I guess.

"It was just an intense atmosphere and you just felt the enjoyment of the hatred. You just enjoyed knowing that Queensland hated you and you knew it would take you to a whole other stratosphere... and all you want to do is do the best for your state and your teammates."

Playing a record 21 consecutive games for New South Wales, Buderus had the pleasure of entering the Origin fray when the Newcastle Knights were in their prime in 2002.

Coming off a premiership win in 2001 and with the likes of club teammates Johns, Ben Kennedy, Steve Simpson and Matt Gidley by his side, Buderus was well-supported in the Origin arena though the chance to play with other outstanding players is what excited the eventual Blues captain most.

"I just loved being around the boys in camp and the way you bonded when you had a bit of down time in the motel, so I'd go around and talk a bit of footy with them and try and understand how they lived life and the way they trained," Buderus said.

"Then at training as well you would look at the way they trained and then the game was the icing on the cake with the build-up and you got to compete for New South Wales and live the dream."

Buderus's dream run at Origin level would see him rewarded with the added prestige of captaincy when Andrew Johns was ruled out for the majority of the season with an ACL injury.

It was former NSW coach Phil Gould who decided to put the little 'c' next to Buderus's name although it didn't sit well with the player considering he wasn't even the club captain of the Knights at the time.

"It took me a while to get my head around it because I didn't think I was that sort of leader. I hadn't had too much experience so I doubted myself for a while especially when Gus told me he was going to do it," Buderus said.

"I went back into the dressing room and I looked around the room and saw all these leaders of their respective teams and I thought 'geez these guys better help me out' but it was a huge honour to be asked - and how could you say no?"

While captaincy was something that didn't come easy to Buderus, the re-emergence of Roosters legend Brad Fittler into the representative scene in 2004 enabled Buderus to gather invaluable experience in his role as Blues captain.

It was Freddy who gave Buderus some choice words after a training session one day that Buderus carried with him for the remainder of his career.

"I still remember in 2004 when Gus brought Freddy back. He pulled me aside and said to me: 'Mate, what are you doing? You don't let players get away with that. You're the one who has to set the scene here and I know you do your leadership through actions but you're responsible for everyone'," Buderus explains.

"From there, I just took those few sentences through with me for the rest of my career and I was that grateful for Freddy to come up and say that to me."

Buderus, who now divides his time between being a club ambassador and running the water for Newcastle, will forever have fond memories of his time in the sky blue jumper.

The legacy he has left will too see him remembered as one of the classiest hookers in recent decades both on and off the field.

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