Unquestionably the 2020 NRL season is unlike any other in the code’s history.
In his five years at the Wests Tigers, James Tedesco only managed 90 appearances. All of those came about in regular season football.
He was known as the talented youngster, once part of ‘The Big Four’ who couldn’t manage to string a full season together. After debuting in Round 1 of the 2012 NRL season to much fanfare, Tedesco only managed thirty minutes before he suffered a torn ACL.
Then in 2014, a fractured patella cut his season short again. As luck would have it, it was against the Canberra Raiders – the very same team he backflipped on a three-year deal with starting in 2015.
But it would be in middle of the 2017 season, that Tedesco would make the most important play of his career. A play that wouldn’t even be on the football field. He would sign a four-year deal with the Sydney Roosters starting in 2018 – and he hasn’t looked back yet.
This was encapsulated after Tuesday night’s 42-6 win over the Canterbury Bankstown-Bulldogs in which the man they called ‘Teddy’ scored three tries, ran for 237 metres, broke 10 tackles, made two line breaks and had five line break assists.
Pretty good for a man whose career once looked at a crossroads.
Even Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson, who has mentored the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Cooper Cronk, was lost for words after Tuesday night.
“He was… he was Teddy”, Robinson said.
And that’s just the simple truth. There is no denying Tedesco’s game has continued to develop under the tutelage of Robinson and the Roosters staff since his departure from the Tigers.
As the Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie highlighted last week, the reigning Dally M medalist’s running metres have continued to rise over the years. In 2016, Tedesco averaged 132 metres a game. This year it is now over 230 metres.
In 90 appearances for Wests, he managed 50 tries from 90 appearances. In just 52 appearances for the Roosters, he has already amassed 30 tries.
Since debuting with Easts in 2018, Tedesco has won: two NRL premierships, two State of Origin series, 2019 Dally M medal, 2019 Wally Lewis medal and the 2018-19 Jack Gibson medal (Roosters player of the year).
And let’s not forget his heroics for both his club and state last year when he scored the match sealing tries in both Game 3 of the State of Origin Series and the NRL grand final.
Since Billy Slater’s retirement at the conclusion of the 2018 season, the league’s top fullbacks have been jostling to be the top number one.
From Tom Trbojevic to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and even Kalyn Ponga, the game’s title as ‘best fullback’ has been up for grabs.
But from what we’ve seen from Tedesco since his time at the Roosters, capped off in Tuesday’s night victory.
There is no denying who is the game’s number one man.