James Tedesco will not make a miracle comeback against Canberra; could return for finals
August 31, 2016 7:15pm
Christian Nicolussi - The Daily Telegraph
WESTS Tigers players will have extra incentive against Canberra on Sunday with star fullback James Tedesco in line for a shock return next weekend should they sneak into the NRL finals.
In a huge boost for the Tigers ahead of their must-win clash against the Raiders at a packed Leichhardt Oval, The Daily Telegraph can reveal Tedesco could miraculously take the field just four weeks after breaking his jaw.
The sight of Tedesco, wearing a green non-contact bib, in full flight at a training session on Wednesday sparked speculation the fullback could be a late inclusion for the Raiders showdown.
Coach Jason Taylor told The Daily Telegraph Tedesco was no chance to play Sunday — but he left the door slightly ajar for a return the following week if the Tigers qualified.
“I’d say he’s a remote chance for week one if we reach the finals,’’ Taylor said.
“He’s run a couple of times, but his jaw is still sore.
“There was no way we were going to let him get near tackling or any contact today, even though he was running and passing.
“We do know the surgeon was happy with the job he did, but it will be up to him to make a call on when Teddy returns.’’
It will be three weeks this weekend since Tedesco had his jaw shattered by Gold Coast skipper Ryan James, who did not miss a match for the hit.
In a cruel twist, James can now help deny the Tigers their September dream by beating premiers North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday evening.
Professor Robert Mitchell performed surgery on Tedesco and also operated St George Illawarra ace Josh Dugan’s broken jaw. He was back playing in a month.
One thing in Tedesco’s favour will be if Brisbane finish fifth, which is likely, the Tigers will not have to play until Sunday afternoon at Suncorp Stadium, giving the fullback a further two days to recover.
The Wallabies and Springboks have already booked Suncorp Stadium for the Saturday night.
The game cannot be moved to a Friday night because the NRL reserves the prime-time slot for the teams who finish in the top four. The NRL will also be mindful the Tigers will have had just a five-day turnaround.
The pending Tedesco return will mean nothing if the Tigers lose in front of 18,500 fans at their spiritual inner-western Sydney ground this weekend.
Luke Brooks, whose dodgy knee meant his workload was limited at Concord Oval on Wednesday, said the Tigers had won without Tedesco earlier this year, and it was a timely confidence boost when they got the job done again against the Warriors on Sunday.
Brooks produced a vital 40/20 in the second half while his halves partner Mitchell Moses did a marvellous job of taking control of the attack.
“Mitch has really taken control of the team and become a leader on and off the field,’’ Brooks said.“You can see on the field how much confidence he’s got.’’
“Growing up playing with him, I’ve seen this before (from him), so it’s no surprise to me. I think when he has a lot of confidence, he’s really on, and he’s been taking on the line a lot, so that’s a good sign.’’
Skipper Aaron Woods and retiring rake Dene Halatau have become the latest players floored by a virus at the club, but are expected back for Saturday’s captain’s run.
David Nofoaluma, Kyle Lovett and Curtis Sironen have all been affected, while Woods looked to be struggling when the team arrived home from Auckland on Monday.
Taylor said he expected Woods and Halatau, who plays his final game at Leichhardt, to both play.