Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco will make his long-awaited debut in State of Origin III next Wednesday night.
Tedesco, 23, has had an up and down start to his first grade rugby league career, suffering knee injuries that ended both his 2012 and 2014 seasons early.
Born in Ryde in 1993, he grew up on a cattle farm in Menangle and is passionate about the Macarthur region. He played junior Rugby League for the Camden Rams and Junior reps for the Magpies.
“As a club we are so very proud of James and all that he has achieved. He deserves every opportunity that he is presented and we know he will do well,” Camden Rams’s secretary Kristy Peters told The Newsroom.
Despite his injury record, Tedesco has been a strong performer for the Tigers since his debut for them in 2012 at Leichhardt Oval against the Cronulla Sharks – the match that ended his season.
Tedesco clawed his way back from surgery to repair his ACL, and had a standout 2013 season that earned him a spot in the City Origin team. He also played for Italy in the 2013 World Cup. His 2014 season ended after just eight games when he fractured his kneecap in a match against the Canberra Raiders.
Having recovered, he played through 2015, being named Wests Tigers Player’s player of the year, Wests Tigers Members player of the year and awarded try of the year.
He has had a great 2016, scoring and setting up 22 tries so far. He missed out on selection for Origin because of a shoulder injury.
Wests Tigers legends John Skandalis and Keith Galloway told The Newsroom about how they think Tedesco will go on Wednesday night.
“James is the type of player who every time touches the ball you can expect some sort of excitement. I think he is made for Origin and have no doubt he will be one of NSW best on the night,” Skandalis said.
“I always knew he was destined for representative honours, injury has struck (him) at the wrong time in past seasons and now is his time to shine. He has got lightening fast speed, and his footwork and strength is second to none. He is one of the strongest blokes in the gym and the fittest on the field. He is brave and tough, he pretty much has all the attributes covered and he is always working hard on his game,” Galloway said.
James recently had an interview with NSWRL and gave his thoughts about his long awaited selection and his injury toll, “I was disappointed and frustrated at the timing of it. I’m sort of used to getting injuries, I’ve had a few in my career and it was a different one – it was the shoulder blade fracture,” he said.
“I was happy to be patient…if I could return in some good form after that I knew I had a chance and I’m glad I got the opportunity.”
This gave an opportunity for Matt Moylan to be the fullback in the first two Origin games of the series. Next Wednesday both players will play; Moylan will wear the number six jumper to replace the injured Adam Reynolds and Tedesco will wear the number one.
Tedesco said he was just relaxing at home last Saturday night with his family when he got the call from Laurie Daley.
I was very excited to get the call and I told my family straight away and they were all pumped, very grateful and very proud for me,” the Tigers fullback said.
Tedesco won’t be alone as he will have his teammates Aaron Woods and Robbie Farah by his side. Wests Tigers five-eighth Mitchell Moses put his support behind his fellow teammate saying he can deliver this Wednesday night.
“I am stoked for [Tedesco]. He deserves it. He has been through all the injuries and everything and he has worked his arse off to get back,” Moses said.
“I am just happy for him and hopefully the Blues get a win for him. I think he will have a lot of pressure on him. Queensland will be definitely be testing him out. I am sure he can handle it.” – Jesse Mullens
Photo of James Tedesco training for the Blues at Coffs Harbour from the Wests Tigers’ Twitter feed.