At 7.30pm on Saturday night boom Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco had the world at his feet. Sporting his junior club’s socks taped firmly below his knees – a promotion by the Tigers – the talented speedster was ready for a night out in front of family and friends.
By 7.31pm his season was ruined.
A towering Pat Richards kick-off was taken safely by Canberra skipper Terry Campese, but we all know no catcher is safe when it comes to a Richards kick – not even his own teammates it seems. Tedesco collided with Campese at a million miles an hour, resulting in the fullback reeling from the clash.
Tedesco’s year was done in a flash and his family’s heads went into their hands.
Potter praised his side’s guts after the 19-18 win despite the tragic loss of the injury-prone flyer.
“The team nearly wants to die for one another to scrounge a win,” Potter said.
“The character they have shown, I don’t think I have seen better given the adversity we copped.
“It’s unfortunate [Tedesco’s injury], it was a contact injury and that’ll be his season, but he’ll bounce back from that.
“He’s a great kid, he does his rehab really well, he’s suffered a bit of adversity before so he knows how to come back well.”
Tedesco will be bigger and better the next time we see him on the NRL stage, but there is now a gaping hole in the Tigers’ team and the last thing they needed was an injury to their most dangerous attacking asset.
Guts will only get you so far in this competition. It’s class and the ‘X-factor’ that separates the very best from the rest of the premiership. The Tigers are now missing arguably the most integral part of their attacking arsenal.
Robbie Farah is no doubt the Tigers’ best player and the hub of everything good they do, but an outlaw isn’t winning a gunfight without bullets.
In an ironic twist of fate, Tedesco’s demise came against the club that he turned his back on after reneging on a contract at the 11th hour. Leading into the match, Farah welcomed Canberra’s challenge.
‘‘I can’t see him getting any special treatment because they’ll have to get their hands on him first, he’s pretty elusive,’’ Farah said.
‘‘He’s looking forward to the game as we all are.
‘‘This is his home crowd, he’s a Camden boy and loves playing here, so he’ll have the support of the crowd.’’
The Raiders didn’t need the special treatment.
Another round of knee surgery has Tedesco on the sidelines once more in a worrying sign for the 21-year-old, who broke down in the 30th minute of his NRL debut in Round 1 of 2012, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament against Cronulla. He then played through most of last season with a cracked fibula.
But there is a form line that is now starting to emerge. Tedesco’s playing style is his own Achilles heel. Fully fit he is one of the best prospects in the NRL, cutting through defensive lines like a hot knife through butter. Yet on closer examination, you can see why the custodian has had constant issues since his first grade debut at Leichhardt Oval.
No fullback changes direction at the speed and force of Tedesco, which will continue to hamper his development into one of the great fullbacks over the coming years.
Sure, the injury on Saturday night was different. He smashed into Campese and came off second best. But the injury woes are starting to pile up.
What makes Tedesco such a spectacular player to watch is his explosiveness and his ability to step off both feet. At only 21, Tedesco must come back and play exactly the same way he has, but with that comes the threat of more injuries.
Let’s hope the injury bug is finished with the talented fullback and he runs like the wind for a decade to come.
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