Getting buzz Down Under as Buderus fulfils ambition

WHEN possibly the finest player ever to grace the game is enraptured, you begin to realise what Wembley really means to rugby league players.

The first person to send Leeds Rhinos hooker Danny Buderus a congratulatory message when the Yorkshire side booked their passage to the Challenge Cup final was his ecstatic best mate Andrew Johns.

The gifted pair together won almost everything the game had to offer either in the colours of NRL Grand Final victors Newcastle Knights, where they collaborated gloriously for more than a decade, New South Wales or their beloved Australia.

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But neither had ever savoured the greatest cup competition in the world and so Johns – 12,000 miles away when Leeds face Warrington this afternoon – is eagerly anticipating the prospect almost as much as his old pal.

"He's buzzing," Buderus told Yorkshire Post. "As soon as Warrington won their semi he texted saying 'how good is that?'

"When one of the best players the world's ever seen hasn't played in this Wembley final it shows again how honoured I am.

"He was really happy for me to get there and asking me to tell him all about the experience – the build-up, the atmosphere, the game, everything.

"Back home we used to get up and watch the Challenge Cup final in the middle of the night and I've a lot of memories of the great Wigan teams running around when I was a kid; Ellery Hanley blew my mind with what he used to do with them.

"Playing in Australia, you were always jealous of Super League players able to get to play on that Wembley turf. I've always wanted to do that and now I can.

"It's such a privilege, right up there in my career and – if we can get a good win – it would put the icing on everything."

Buderus, 32, has proved an inspiration in helping Leeds reach Wembley, delivering two outstanding spells in the epic semi-final victory over St Helens, the second of which helped them stage a fightback from

22-14 down.

He has endured his problems since leaving his golden career with Newcastle for Leeds, arriving with a serious bicep injury which saw him miss the start of last season and then suffering a broken leg which denied the Origin hero – he represented the Blues in a record 21 consecutive matches – an appearance in Rhinos' Grand Final success.

It is a sign of his character though that Buderus has shown no sign of bitterness – "I'd had a good run over the years and was pleased to be part of the squad, seeing the team get what they deserve" – but this time around, the ex-Australia captain has certainly displayed all of the guile, craft and defensive steeliness which marked him out as one of the greatest hookers of his time.

Buderus's father has only recently returned from a visit to England but is quickly returning to see his son in action at the famous venue today.

"That puts it into perspective," he said. "I rang my brother asking him to come not thinking my dad would too – my parents had been over for four weeks already and left just before that Saints game. It says a lot about the occasion – it's the sort you want to tell your kids about when you're older."

Securing victory over Warrington would be up there with all his feats but he has been warned by Johns, who had a brief spell with Wolves in 2005 and helped coach them pre-season, about the threat their opponents pose.