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Besieged Knights will bounce back: Buderus

NZN 25/01/2017 Matt Encarnacion

Newcastle legend Danny Buderus has backed the besieged club to restore itself as an NRL force on the back of a salary cap warchest and its "bolted on" fanbase.

Already installed as favourites for this year's wooden spoon, the Knights last week endured a week from hell that began with long-time servant Jarrod Mullen provisionally suspended after testing positive to a steroid.

The shock development came before the club released young prop Korbin Sims to Brisbane, and a second forward in Pauli Pauli is facing a long stint on the sidelines after being involved in a seven-car freeway pile-up.

Then first-string hooker Rory Kostjasyn was this week ruled out until round seven after suffering a throat injury during a training mishap.

But it was the sensational revelations of Mullen's drug use that rocked the proud club just weeks out from the start of the new season.

"It's a big blow. It was always going to be a tough year with everyone fit and accounted for," Buderus said at an NRL ambassadors meeting on Wednesday.

However the former Newcastle rake, who played four seasons alongside Mullen before retiring in 2008, said the Knights' faithful fanbase would be rewarded for their loyalty.

The Knights' current 10,819 members is the ninth highest in the 16-team league.

"The thing that is bolted on is the fans. The fans are never going to waver. Membership is strong," Buderus said.

"The day the club does turn around, whoever's involved at the Knights at the time is in for a helluva of a ride because everyone there, the support and what they've got in the community, is phenomenal. It will turnaround and hopefully it's soon."

The silver lining from Mullen's potential sacking, coupled with Sims' sudden departure, is that the Knights could have an extra $1 million to splurge on the open market for next season.

The club has already shown its willingness to spend big money this summer, reportedly forking out almost $4 million over five years for North Queensland teenager Kalyn Ponga.

Despite a push to bring the 18-year-old to the club immediately - one season early - Buderus said he was happy to allow Ponga to develop under the bevvy of representative stars in Townsville.

"Kalyn's in a really good position at the moment, hanging out with the likes of Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott and the world-class players they've got up there," he said.

"He's still in the development phase himself. When he comes down, he's going to be such a really important player for the club, probably one of the most important in the last 10-15 years.

"For him to come down full of confidence in a team that's going in the right direction - which the Knights will be - that'll be the time for him."

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