How a case of mistaken identity cost the Dragons – but launched Joel Caine's NRL career

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How a case of mistaken identity cost the Dragons first crack at NRL legend Danny Buderus and landed them Joel Caine instead

  • Radio personality Joel Caine was given a two-year deal by Dragons in mid-1990s
  • Caine was elated, but was shocked after nerves got the better of him at trials
  • Turns out the Dragons wanted to sign a young Danny Buderus, not Caine
  • Buderus later signed for Knights and became the premier hooker in the NRL
  • He won a premiership in 2001, a Dally M Medal and played for NSW and Australia

Radio commentator Joel Caine has hilariously revealed how a case of mistaken identity with NRL legend Danny Buderus landed him his maiden first grade contract with the Dragons.

Caine, 43, was invited to trial with St George in the mid-1990s, and felt he butchered the opportunity at Kogarah Oval due to nerves.

Chatting this week on SEN’s new show All Talk with Hello Sport, Caine recalled he was elated to be offered a two-year deal.

‘I was the captain of the group three under-16s team, and there was a kid [Buderus] on the bench who was a back-up half, if you like,’ Caine said.

‘He and I get an opportunity to go down to Kogarah for an open trial for the Dragons.

Radio commentator Joel Caine has hilariously revealed how a case of mistaken identity with NRL legend Danny Buderus landed him his maiden first grade contract with the Dragons

Radio commentator Joel Caine has hilariously revealed how a case of mistaken identity with NRL legend Danny Buderus landed him his maiden first grade contract with the Dragons

‘I just cracked under pressure, I wanted it too badly, I played really, really bad, but my mate from Taree has a blinder.

‘I’m leaving and I’ll never forget this, I haven’t yet hit the road leaving Kogarah and I get a call, ‘We’d love to sign you for two years’, I was so relieved.’

A couple of months later in pre-season concerned Dragons officials sat down with Caine and asked him why he wasn’t producing the same electric form that warranted a contract. 

‘I was gutted, so they took us back to the trial and played the trial tapes, they pressed play and said, ‘What do you make of this run?’, I said, ‘Oh it’s great’.

‘They said, ‘How do we get you back to that?’, I said, ‘That’s impossible’, they said, ‘Why?’, I said, ‘Well you’ve just shown me half an hour of tape of my mate from Taree’.’

After being 'overlooked' by the Dragons, Buderus signed with the Knights and went onto establish himself as a premier hooker for NSW and Australia

After being ‘overlooked’ by the Dragons, Buderus signed with the Knights and went onto establish himself as a premier hooker for NSW and Australia

Buderus also enjoyed a successful stint in the English Super League with the Leeds Rhinos before returning to Australia for a second stint with the Knights

Buderus also enjoyed a successful stint in the English Super League with the Leeds Rhinos before returning to Australia for a second stint with the Knights

That ‘mate from Taree’ was future international dummy-half and Newcastle legend Danny Buderus.

After being shifted to fullback, Caine eventually made his NRL debut for the Dragons in 1998 before playing for both Balmain and the Wests Tigers across a 97-game first-grade career.

Buderus signed with the Knights and went onto establish himself as the game’s premier hooker for NSW and Australia.

He won a premiership in 2001, the coveted Dally M Medal in 2004 and in 2020 was announced as Newcastle’s General Manager of Football.

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