The former NSW skipper left the Knights in 2008 to join English Super League outfit Leeds Rhinos under something of a cloud with a year remaining on his contract as then-coach Brian Smith opted to overhaul his squad.
Although Buderus was not directly told by Smith he was not wanted, he felt his future lay elsewhere with the coach wielding the axe over team-mates such as Clint Newton and Kirk Reynoldson, and was allowed to leave without a fight.
The 34-year-old was widely expected to hang up his boots at the conclusion of the 2011 Super League season, but a call from Bennett, who admitted to being surprised at the time when the club let him go, brought him home.
“No, not really,” was Bennett’s response when asked if Buderus or the club had expressed any intention of a return before it was suggested by the seven-time Premiership winning coach.
“I’m very pleased he’s coming back. He is a wonderful player and it’s only right that someone of his talent and standing at the club should finish his career in Newcastle.”
Buderus ended his three-year stint in England by helping the Rhinos to a dramatic Super League premiership in his final year at the club, and Bennett has no hesitation to making him his starting hooker.
He also confirmed Kurt Gidley would begin the year at five-eighth with big-money signing Darius Boyd to be the club’s new fullback.
And the veteran coach, who is leading the NRL All Stars side against the Indigenous All Stars on the Gold Coast on Saturday, said he’s satisfied with the strength of his squad as he looks to become the first man to lead four different clubs to premierships.
“It is all been very good, the players have been working extremely hard, but they just need to play now,” Bennett said. “There are some good players there.”
He also denied there was any extra pressure on him to bring success to the club with multi-millionaire owner Nathan Tinkler investing so heavily to hire him from St George Illawarra on a deal believed to be worth in the region of $1.5m a season.
“I’ve only ever worked at one-town teams,” he said. “It’s a fact of life for me and not something I’m worried about.”