Well – Loz vs Gus, eh? Didn’t that escalate quickly.
It was the one State of Origin award Billy Slater couldn’t win.
Sydney Roosters fullback James Tedesco was crowned NSW’s best player from their 2018 series victory on Monday night, earning his maiden Brad Fittler Medal.
Controversially overlooked by Kangaroos selectors for the Wally Lewis player of the series, Tedesco was the Blues’ best in their series-opening win in Melbourne and finished the three games with 22 tackle busts, two tries, three assists and averaged 166m per game.
In comparison, opposite fullback Slater was man of the match in Game III and had seven tackle busts and three assists in his two games.
Tedesco won the award from the likes of Damien Cook, Tom Trbojevic and James Maloney in front of more than 600 guests at a gala dinner at The Star in Sydney.
“I’m very honoured to receive this award and to be involved in this team this year,” Tedesco said.
“To come away with this medal caps it all off … Some of those memories I will cherish forever.
“Freddy (Fittler)’s influence and the coaching staff brought the best out in all of us.
“In those games I just wanted to back myself and Freddy brought that out in me and brought it out in all of us.”
Based on 3-2-1 votes match votes from his NSW teammates, Tedesco follows in the footsteps of David Klemmer, Josh Jackson and Josh Dugan from the past three years.
Jarryd Hayne and Ryan Hoffman were the last men to take the prize in a winning series, jointly claiming the award in 2014.
Rookie Trbojevic claimed the True Blue award chosen by coach Brad Fittler for team qualities, following in the footsteps of brother Jake in his debut year last year.
Fellow rookie Damien Cook won the people’s choice award, while Sydney Roosters centre Isabelle Kelly won the NSW women’s State of Origin player of the year after she scored a double in the Blues’ win.