Before last night, nobody had ever taken out the Danny Buderus Medal twice.
Mitch Barnett just changed all that.
The Wingham product collected the nib Newcastle Knights NRL Player of the Year award for the second time last night, after first taking out the medal in 2017.
“It means the world to me,” Barnett said.
Barnett: Buderus medal, contract and captaincy
“I’ve put in a lot this year and to know that my hard works been noticed, it’s a massive privilege and honour to wear this medal and something I’m very proud of.”
Barnett hails from Wingham, just a 15-minute drive from Danny Buderus’ home-town of Taree.
It’s a parallel that’s hard to ignore, especially for the man himself.
“It’s funny how things like that happen, you’d think Bedsy’s just looking after me and picking it himself,” Barnett laughed.
“It’s obviously a massive honour and to win this not once but twice is the greatest achievement of my career so far.
“It’s something I hold very close to my heart, my other one I’ve got hanging up on the wall at home with a framed jersey, so that’s how proud I am of it.”
Barnett enjoyed an amazing season in 2019, consistently being one of the Knights top three or four players on the park all year.
He finished the season with seven tries and 1719 run metres, with his form leading to talk of a contract extension, an idea that’s exciting for Barnett.
“I don’t see myself playing my footy anywhere else at the moment,” he said.
“I just hope I can put in more good performances so I can get new deals to hang around because I love this place and I love this club.”
The 25-year-old consistently led the Knights defensive line, while also posing a threat in attack with his dangerous line running.
Amazingly, he still believes there’s room for him to get better next year, with long-term goals to become captain of the club and earn representative honours.
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“You can never stop wanting to improve, and I’ve got plenty of improvement to go,” Barnett said.
“Yeah, I do (see myself as a future captain), it’s definitely a goal of mine to lead this club one day.
“I’ve grown in leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and it would be silly of me to say it wouldn’t be a goal of mine.
“There’s lots of things in my game that I can fix and if I can do that, I’m hoping one day you can see me in a representative jersey.”
With season 2019 officially done and dusted, Barnett claims the team already has high aspirations for 2020.
“We’ve knocked off a few of the top four teams this year, so we’ve obviously got the cattle in the shed to do it,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what next year holds, we’re aiming for the top four and we want to go all the way.”