Cooper Cronk has announced that the 2019 NRL season will be his last, bringing an end to a career that began in 2004.
After being proclaimed the best player in the world by Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson, James Tedesco has credited his rise to the influence of the “football whisperer” Joe Wehbe.
The NSW and Australian fullback continued his stellar start to the NRL season in the Roosters’ 36-4 demolition of Brisbane at the SCG on Thursday.
Going into round four, the Tricolours No.1 was on the second line of betting – only behind Cameron Munster – for the Dally M medal.
And after running for 195 metres, busting six tackles, making one linebreak, crossing for a try and turning in a rock-solid defensive performance, his odds will only shorten.
Robinson said since defecting from the Wests Tigers 18 months ago, Tedesco had developed from a talented individual player into a senior statesman of the game.
“I thought he was the best player in rugby league last year in the world,” Robinson said.
“His development from a talent to a great man, from an individual player and then into a great leader and the breadth of his knowledge of the game, to understand all that and still deliver on class moments.”
Tedesco said he was humbled by his coach’s praise and didn’t think of himself as belonging in such a high echelon.
“Massive call. I don’t really see myself like that,” Tedesco told AAP.
“Before each week I’m just trying to do that job as best I can.
“Trust in myself. It’s been really good the last few weeks, I haven’t been over-thinking it and things are coming off.”
Tedesco said upon his arrival at Bondi Junction last year, he was guilty of over-playing his hand and getting lost in his own thoughts.
He turned to Wehbe, a confidant, mentor and mind coach who he had worked with at the Tigers, to simplify things and quieten his mind.
He meets with Wehbe every week for up to two hours and talks to him on game day.
“Last year I was trying to do too much and worry about too much and not worry about my own role,” Tedesco said.
“Joe clears my head and I just worry about my own role in the team, not try to look for things, just play what I feel.
“When I worry about who I’m coming up against or the other team, that’s when my thoughts get a bit blurred and I’m not playing my best footy.
“I have the ability, I think a lot of people have the ability, there’s a lot of external pressure and thoughts that put you off.”