Tedesco focusing on the Tigers
Sun 21 Feb, 2016, 8:18am
By Martin Gabor, National Correspondent, NRL.com
James Tedesco has the talent to be the next New South Wales fullback, but the Wests Tigers custodian doesn’t want to think that far ahead.
The City representative was at his brilliant best on Saturday night, laying on four tries in his side’s 30-all draw with the Cronulla Sharks at Campbelltown Stadium.
Josh Dugan has made it clear that he wants to play in the centres in 2016, meaning the Blues No.1 spot is likely to become available.
“I don’t want to put too much thought into it,” the Tigers fullback told NRL.com.
"If I can just put some good footy in with the Tigers and get us playing some good footy together as a team, I think my form will improve from there.
“I know there is a bit of competition there for that fullback spot so if I’m playing good footy and if an opportunity comes, I’ll definitely take it with both hands.”
More pressing for Tedesco is his form with the Tigers, and the 23-year-old is excited by what awaits him and the team in 2016.
The recruitment of Craig Sandercock as the club’s new assistant coach has had an immediate impact, with the playing group noticing a change to their attacking formations.
“Some of the plays we worked hard on at training came off tonight, which is a plus and a positive leading into the season,” Tedesco said.
“We worked a lot in the off season on our attack, getting me and the halves more hands on the ball and we’ve worked hard on our attacking structures.”
Tedesco had an impressive 12 try assists in 2015, and noted it as an area he was looking to improve ahead of the new season.
Largely stuck on the left edge last year, Tedesco made himself available on both flanks against the Sharks, with two of his four try assists coming down the right.
“You don’t want to be too one dimensional and easy for the defence to read,” Tedesco said of his positioning.
“Mitch [Moses] and ‘Brooksy’ [Luke Brooks] are working on both sides as well, so we’re trying to add a bit of diversity by playing what’s in front of us.”
It was a bittersweet night for the Tigers fullback, coming up against the side he did his ACL against on his NRL debut in 2012.
After a couple of injury-plagued seasons, Tedesco managed to play every minute in 2015, and believes his body is feeling better than ever.
“Before pre-season, I had the stem cells which protected the knee a bit more, which was getting a bit sore at the end of last year,” Tedesco said.
“It was the first hit-out tonight, and the knee and body have pulled up well so it’s a positive and looking forward to Round 1.”
Tigers coach Jason Taylor was happy with his fullback’s performance; especially considering it was his first run for the year.
“It was his first game and he got 60 or so minutes,” Taylor said after the game.
"At training he was a bit frustrated a few weeks ago with some of his catching and passing.
“It’s really come along a lot in the last few weeks and there was some really high quality stuff from him tonight.”