Tedesco’s need for speed
By Matt Encarnacion, Western Sydney Correspondent
5:53pm Fri 21st March, 2014
It was during a game against the Warriors last year when James Tedesco felt something he never had before.
It wasn’t physical – nothing can ever compare to tearing your anterior cruciate ligament to your knee in your NRL debut. Nor was it emotional – all the losing makes you grow a little insensitive after a while.
No, the burgeoning Wests Tigers fullback hit a mental road block last season, the kind that made Tedesco wonder if he would ever feel as fast as the wind again.
“When Shaun Johnson picked up the ball from his in-goal, I was chasing and I wasn’t getting any closer. I felt like I wasn’t going at top speed to get there,” Tedesco recalled.
“I felt like I couldn’t get there and that’s not a feeling I’m used to.”
We all know by now that the Warriors entertainer wouldn’t exactly be a slouch on the race track. But growing up through the ranks, there weren’t many that would’ve been ahead of the Tigers prodigy.
That’s why the club rates him so highly, and why there are more than a few clubs just as eager to pry him away from Concord. It’s take him a long two years to feel like he did back when he was running the 100m in 11 seconds in his teenage years, back when he was “freer”.
“I was pretty quick as a young bloke. I did athletics when I was younger, and then after my knee injury, I lost a bit of speed there,” he said.
"But coming off the World Cup and after the Nines as well, I felt quick there and just playing with more confidence. Last year, I was a bit down on confidence, the results and the team.
“Just playing with confidence and feeling quicker, I don’t know if it’s the quickest I’ve been though.”
Some home-made sprint sessions in the acreage out the back of his home in south-west Sydney, as well as some one-on-one training with sprint coach Hayden Knowles, has helped him get back.
“He gets us through drills and just working off that speed off the mark, that’s something that was my main trademark when I was younger,” Tedesco said.
“Last year I strapped my knee and I had a few niggling injuries so I guess that restricts me a bit. I’m a bit more free [now].”
A breakout performance alongside rookie halfback Luke Brooks against the Titans last Sunday gave Tigers fans a glimpse into a future, one that would hopefully include the off-contract Tedesco.
While the Tigers are front-runners to secure his signature, the Bulldogs and the Roosters are understood to be circling. But Tedesco himself admits last week’s outing could be the beginning of a new era.
“I think it can be. If we all stick together and we all stay injury-free, us young blokes. Last year we had a horror run with injuries,” he said.
“Hopefully we can stay fit and get a combination going. Me and Brooksy have already started to show a bit of a good combination, hopefully we can keep that going for the rest of the year. The more games we play together the more it will be easier.”