HE may be about to start his second trial match at fullback but Wests Tigers young gun James Tedesco is unlikely to retain the No.1 jersey for the start of the NRL season, according to coach Tim Sheens.
The 19-year-old will face Sydney Roosters at Campbelltown on Saturday but Sheens admits he’s likely to open the new campaign against Cronulla with a more experienced head at fullback.
Tedesco enjoyed a solid first grade debut in the Tigers’ trial win over Parramatta last week and will be given another chance to impress against the Roosters.
However, Sheens said he is pondering picking new recruits Joel Reddy, Tom Humble or the seasoned Mitch Brown against the Sharks at Leichhardt.
"If I’ve got any indecision it’s who will start the season at fullback,‘’ Sheens said.
"I’ll be surprised if I start young Tedesco first game.
"If he was a young prize fighter you wouldn’t want to throw him into the deep end so we just have to be careful with him but I am impressed with him.‘’
Tedesco was the star of the Tigers under-20s side last year after coming out of the SG Ball under-18s competition midway through the season.
But the veteran coach is wary over overloading him with the burden of expectation at such an early stage of his career.
"He’s a good kid,‘’ Sheens said.
"I’m sure this week will test him, it will be a step up in class.
"It’s just start of the learning process for him.
"Every decision he makes, every catch he has to take, every tackle he has to make is pretty critical.
"I don’t necessarily want to throw that on him at this point as I have some experienced options.‘’
Humble and Reddy, who moved to the Tigers from the Eels, will start on the bench against the Roosters, with Brown still making his way back from a hamstring injury.
The match will also see skipper Robbie Farah return to action after missing last week’s game with a sore groin.
However, Lote Tuqiri is out due to a thumb injury.
Tigers: James Tedesco, Beau Ryan, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Matt Utai, Benji Marshall, Tim Moltzen, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Keith Galloway, Adam Blair , Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington. Interchange: Liam Fulton, Matt Groat, Matt Bell, Tom Humble, Joel Reddy.
TIM SHEENS WARY OF NURTURING JAMES TEDESCO
By Wayne Cousins
14/02/2012 6:34:27 PM
Wests Tigers Head Coach Tim Sheens is a self confessed fan of exciting full-back James Tedesco but has stopped short in declaring when the talented youngster will make his NRL debut.
Tedesco got his first taste of first grade rugby league with a solid performance in the trial win over Parramatta at Bluetongue Stadium last Saturday night. His impressive performance after a slow start has seen Sheens again name him at full-back for the Foundation Cup trial match at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday, February 18.
Sheens admits the talent is there but is wary of the mental toughness Tedesco needs to grind away each week as well as the pressure of playing in the NRL.
The Australian Test Coach is still to decide as to who will wear the number 1 jersey in the opening round against Cronulla Sharks at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, March 4.
“There has been a lot of focus on young Tedesco but I will be surprised if I start him in the first game,’’ Sheens said.
“If he was a young prize fighter, you wouldn’t want to throw him in the deep end to a great degree so we are going to have to be a bit careful there with him.
“I am impressed with him. He has come out of (Western Suburbs) SG Ball last year straight into 20s and in half a season, he was their best player.
“He can play but there is a long way between there and first grade week in, week out for a full season when the intensity is right on.
“Full-back is an important spot. It is part of your so called spine so every decision he makes, every catch he has to catch, and every tackle he has to make is pretty critical so I don’t want to necessarily throw that on him at this point.
“I’ve got some experienced options but we will see. The Roosters will test him and I think he went alright against Parramatta. I think we will see whether he can step up again this week.
“It is just part of a learning process for him. Whether I start him is another thing.”
Sheens’ options include former Parramatta players Joel Reddy, Tom Humble and reliable utility Mitch Brown.
“Joel is very good high under the high ball. He is experienced and can boss a team around which is something you need in a full-back,’’ Sheens said.
“Mitch Brown is coming back this week (from injury) and I’ve used him before at full-back. Tom Humble also went well at full-back when I used him there last weekend.
“If I have got any indecision (two weeks out before kick-off), it is to who is going to start the season there (at full-back).”
well, i have a lot of faith in sheens’ methods with young players (particularly with the hype around benji when he started) and think he brings them along very well.
he is patient and it looks like he will be with tedesco as well. its hard not to get excited about him and wanting him in there from the word go though!
this is coming from the guy who debuted BMM in a Grand Final qualifier
or had Junior Burger as standby for the Grand Final
whose junior burger
Shannon McDonnell,but you are right Kul,Sheens either likes you and your in straight away,or he don’t and you toil away for 2 years and maybe get a look in if injury hits hard.
Kul BMM made debut against roosters not a grand final qualifier, and as for Shannon McDonald, that was circumstantial, sheens didn’t want to have to do that but it would have been urgent if patty didn’t play… I agree with maybe having reddy at fullback and maybe tedesco half way through year
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I don’t think fullback is a position we should be changing half way through the year. It is important to build combinations with the four “spine” players: fullback, halfback, five-eighth and hooker.
I’ll be very surprised if Tedesco doesn’t start the year in FG. He has trained all off-season at fullback. This is just Sheens trying to play down the hype.
This is what I’ve been saying all along.
We have to pick someone with more experience to start the year.
There’s no point rushing Tedesco, if he’s as good as everyone says he has a ten year career in front of him - 5-6 more games in Toyota Cup wont make much difference but it will allow us to get our season going and take the pressure off him.
He was very nervous in the trial against the Eels, he will be better against the Roosters and will force his way into the NRL by the middle of the season.
You can’t not expect Tedesco to not be a bit nervous in his first start in the seniors jersey
As he is starting the 2nd trial as well I reckon you can almost guarantee he will start round 1
If he wasn’t going to start it doesn’t make sense that Sheens wouldn’t have Brown starting in the No 1 jersey for the main trial of the season imo
x 2… this is simply to keep they media hype at bay.
Its obvious the kid is ready, so why waste the kid in the 20’s and risk potential injury. Its no different why they dont send the quality players back to BRET after injury. The risk isnt worth it as points are at a premium in the NRL.
The other contenders arnt even close… Reddy hasnt played Fullback in 4 years of the NRL, Brown is a handy back-up player but isnt Top 13 Quality, and Humble is in the same boat as Tedesco as to NRL Experience and its clear Teddy is ahead of him.
Sheens knows the points table starts from Round 1, so you play your best players if they are available.