Knights dream of finals
STAND-IN Knights captain Danny Buderus received plenty of plaudits from home fans for his toughness in his last appearance at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
Young Newcastle back-rower Alex McKinnon also had reason to praise the club legend ahead of the Knights' elimination final against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium this Sunday.
"He's come back from back operations twice this year and he helped me with some good advice when I came back from my ankle injury (which kept him out for 10 weeks)," McKinnon said.
"Danny just told me to stay patient and that these things take time."
Buderus was one of the Knights' best in Sunday's 54-6 thrashing of Parramatta.
McKinnon, 21, said sending the veteran hooker out a winner would be a fitting farewell.
"It would be a dream for all the boys," McKinnon said.
"We haven't won four in a row all season but finals games are different."
The Knights have every chance to keep the dream alive for one of their favourite sons when they take on the Bulldogs in the sudden-death showdown.
The Bulldogs will likely start favourites but the Knights will fancy their chances. The sides have met twice this season and the Knights won both games.
"We know they're a quality side so we turned up ready to play them both times," McKinnon said.
"We have to be as good as we can be this weekend."
McKinnon will go up against another emerging backrower on Sunday when he takes on Canterbury's Josh Jackson who, like the consistent red-head has been talked up as a future NSW Origin player.
"I watched him play so well in the under-20s competition. He was a year younger than me and to see him play reps (Country) this year is a credit to how hard he's worked," McKinnon said.
"Hopefully he just doesn't play well against us on Sunday."
Hard work has also been the cornerstone of success for McKinnon and his teammates under coach Wayne Bennett in 2013.
McKinnon burst onto the scene at the start of the season, his strong defence earning him a place in the Country side.
"I got a lot of confidence out of that, before getting injured," he said.
"I'm back to full fitness now and we're certainly not planning for a Mad Monday anytime soon.
"I'm happy to be a regular first grader now but I want to make a difference to this team.
"We've worked so hard to get to where we are."