Kiwis greats honoured as part of 'exceptional' class of 2019

Two of New Zealand rugby league's greatest servants will take centre stage with Stacey Jones, Ruben Wiki, Danny Buderus and Craig Young crowned as the latest inductions to the NRL Hall of Fame.

Jones and Wiki boast more than 100 Tests for the Kiwis and rank among the best to ever pull on the black and white, joining countryman Mark Graham as the only New Zealanders among the 106 Hall of Fame members.

Having debuted as a 19-year-old rookie in the Warriors' inaugural season, Jones is regarded as the best player to pull on the club's colours having won a 2002 Golden Boot while leading them to a grand final loss to the Roosters.

Wiki also holds a special place in New Zealand's history, as one of only three Kiwis to play more than 300 first grade games and their most capped international with 55 Tests to his name.

Buderus, meanwhile, joins the Hall of Fame after his five years of retirement lapsed, the Newcastle and NSW champion being the most recent inductee to have pulled on the boots.

With 256 appearances for the Knights during their halcyon days of the late 90s and early 2000s, Buderus was ineligible for inclusion last year due to his Newcastle swansong across 2012-13.

His standing as one of the best rakes of all time is bolstered by a 2004 Dally M medal, three Dally M Hooker of the Year awards (2002, 2004 and 2005) and captaining NSW to back-to-back Origin wins among 21 appearances for his state.

And Dragons icon Young rounds out in this year's crop of inductees as one of the toughest front-rowers of his generation.

While his father Bob represented Australia in soccer and Craig showed promise in the round-ball sport, Young's grand final-winning rookie season in 1977 set him well and truly on the path to rugby league greatness.

His 234 appearances in the Red V complimented 20 Tests for Australia, including a starring role in the 1982 Invincibles tour by the Kangaroos.

A 24-person voting college including the likes of Darren Lockyer, Ricky Stuart and Laurie Daley each selected their top five players for Hall of Fame inclusion, with the four inductees crowned through an independent audit of those votes.

The four latest Hall of Famers will be honoured formally on Wednesday night in a ceremony at Carriageworks in Redfern which will be broadcast live on Fox League.

“All four of our player inductees will stand proudly alongside the 106 players who they will join in the Hall of Fame,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.

“These are some of the best players of their generations, and they will now join the best of the best.

“They each dominated their respective eras and commanded enormous respect. They still do.

“This year’s Hall of Fame class is an exceptional one. We will be recognising greatness when our latest class are formally inducted.”

Danny Buderus

Born: February 6, 1978, Taree, NSW

Junior Football: Taree United

Club: Newcastle

Position: Hooker

Premiership Career 1997-2013: Played 257 (237+20). Tries 61, Goals 1, Points 246

Newcastle Knights hooker Danny Buderus.
Newcastle Knights hooker Danny Buderus. ©NRL Photos

First-Grade Debut: Newcastle v South Queensland at Marathon Stadium, 23/3/1997 (Rd 3)

Grand Finals: 1 – Newcastle 2001 (W)

Rep Career

Australia: Tests 24 (2001-06), Kangaroo tours 2001, 2003; Tri-Nations 2004, 2005

NSW: State of Origins 21 (2002-08)

Country Origin: 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008.

Stacey Jones

Born: May 7, 1976, Auckland, NZ

Junior Football: Ponsonby-Pt Chevalier

Club: Auckland

Position: Halfback

Premiership Career 1995-2009: Played 261 (258+3). Tries 77, Goals 176, Field Goals 14, Points 674

Auckland Warriors halfback Stacey Jones.
Auckland Warriors halfback Stacey Jones. ©NRL Photos

First-Grade Debut: Auckland v Parramatta at Parramatta Stadium, 23/4/1995 (Rd 7)

Grand Finals: 1 – Warriors 2002 c (L)

Rep Career

New Zealand: Tests 46 (1995-2006), World Cups 1995, 2000, Tri-Nations 1999, 2005, 2006; Captained Kiwis in seven Tests.

Ruben Wiki

Born: January 21, 1973, Auckland, NZ

Junior Football: Otahuhu Leopards

Clubs: Canberra, Auckland

Position: Centre/Second Row/Prop

Premiership Career 1993-2008: Played 312 (290+22). Tries 72, Points 288

Canberra 1993-2004: Played 225 (208+17). Tries 60, Points 240

Auckland 2005-08: Played 87 (82+5). Tries 12, Points 48

Ruben Wiki in his playing days with the Raiders.
Ruben Wiki in his playing days with the Raiders. ©NRL Photos

First-Grade Debut: Canberra v Souths at Bruce Stadium, 13/6/1993 (Rd 11)

Grand Finals: 1 – Canberra 1994 (W)

Rep Career

New Zealand: Tests 55 (1994-2006), Tri-Nations 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006 Captained the Kiwis in 18 Tests; World Cups 1995, 2000.

Craig Young

Born: June 25, 1956, Wollongong, NSW

Junior Football: Thirroul/Corrimal

Club: St George

Position: Prop

Premiership Career 1977-88: Played 234 (232+2). Tries 11, Field Goals 2, Points 42

Former St George captain Craig Young.
Former St George captain Craig Young.

First-Grade Debut: St George v Penrith at Kogarah Jubilee Oval, 20/3/1977 (Rd 1)

Grand Finals: 4 – St George 1977 (D), 1977R (W), 1979 c (W), 1985 c (L)

Rep Career 

Australia: Tests 20 (1978-84); Kangaroo tours 1978, 1982

NSW: Interstate matches 5 (1979-81), Matches v touring international teams 1 (1977), State of Origins 5 (1980-84).