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The loss the Knights need to win the grand final

We know about the two premierships.

Who could forget?

1997 and 2001 were great years for the Newcastle faithful but what about the seasons before and after them?

The lost opportunities.

Danny Buderus knows there were years where the Club underachieved.

In a different time, the Knights could well have four titles to their name.

In 1999 the team went as close as it gets.

They were beaten by Canterbury in a game lasting 100 minutes to qualify for the big dance.

The 2000 season was another missed opportunity.

They played the Sydney Roosters in the preliminary final and led 16-2 at halftime before a Brad Fittler masterclass in the second half stunned the Novocastrians.

A 26-20 losses ended their season but there was a silver lining.

“We unearthed a couple of new kids and also said goodbye to some legends as well,” Buderus told the Our Town Our Team podcast.



“That sort of spring boarded us into 2001. The Club was set up. We just needed to get some things right and learn from our experiences.”

A few months later and the roster had changed.

Matt Johns had left the Club with Sean Rudder, Andrew Johns’ new halves partner.

The team was filled with workhorses and many underrated talents.

“We had so many things going for us and at the same time Parramatta had an amazing season,” Buderus said.

“The way they were dissecting teams, Brian Smith had them humming. They unearthed kids, they were fast … we sort of bumbled our way through but got a lot of moment coming through the finals series.

“We got to the semi-finals series and said ‘let’s have a real good crack. It’s a new competition’ and as soon as we got in that mode, what we got out of the team was some phenomenal performances.

“To think we went into that grand final 24-0 (at halftime). The only blemish was that forward pass from me when Joey wrapped around the ruck. That was the only blemish of the whole half.”

As we know, the Knights beat Parramatta to win their second premiership.

It was a week where the Club was relaxed, while their opposition clamed up.

So how did they keep things so light-hearted?

The answer is Mark Hughes.

Hughes crashed a press conference Johns and coach Michael Hagan were part of, asking questions about himself to lighten the mood.

According to Buderus, having chirpy characters in a team is a recipe for success.

“The grand final breakfast on the Thursday, we knew we had Parramatta because of the stress they looked under,” Buderus recalled.

“They had turtle necks on and jackets. They would not look at us, they would not engage in anything we wanted to do with them, so we could see straight away something was different, that they were under a lot of pressure.

“We jumped on that and said, ‘we’ve got these blokes’.”