James Tedesco

WESTS TIGERS

Inside Sport - - FOOTY FINALS -

Amidst the drama the Wests Tigers have faced this sea­son in the form of the Ja­son Tay­lor-Rob­bie Farah feud (or is that just the out­side world read­ing too much into things?) has been the rapid rise of the joint ven­ture’s bril­liant full­back, James Tedesco.

We all knew about the young, bearded Ital­ian Stal­lion prior to this sea­son, but 2016 has proven his real break­out year, cul­mi­nat­ing in se­lec­tion for NSW. Only in­jury kept him from mak­ing his de­but in Ori­gins I and II; there was al­ways a sug­ges­tion that Panthers cus­to­dian and fel­low mate-against-mate debu­tant Matt Moy­lan was only keep­ing the spot warm un­til Teddy was right to go. In the ul­ti­mate sign of re­spect for the 23-year-old first­timer, the Ma­roons ad­mit­ted they’d spent con­sid­er­able time fo­cussing on just Tedesco in field ses­sions in prepa­ra­tion for the ANZ Sta­dium dead­rub­ber. They pay at­ten­tion to all ri­val rook­ies, but they were clearly aware of Tedesco’s threat around the ruck as well as his ball-playing bril­liance.

He has de­vel­oped into one of the gen­uine game-break­ers in the NRL. Tedesco’s solid 180cm x 93kg frame al­lows him to gain a vi­cious head of steam be­fore he ei­ther charges on inside balls or down the mid­dle out of bro­ken play. The sight of him bust­ing tack­les and chas­ing down kicks is fill­ing more and more high­light reels. That he’s camped in the NRL’s top ten for tries and line­breaks should surprise no one. In de­fence, he al­ready dis­plays the brav­ery of a hard­ened, vet­eran No.1, ap­pear­ing to be fright­ened of noth­ing or no one, whether un­der­neath a bomb or un­der at­tack from an op­po­si­tion raid. Should the Tigers reach this year’s play-offs, wait for Tedesco to ex­plode into ac­tion.

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