The Roar
The Roar


Time's up Teddy: Why NSW's Game III win creates the perfect moment for Tedesco to ride off into the Origin sunset

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13th July, 2023
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Finally he made his mark. James Tedesco caught an outside bit of shape, burned the inside man and got himself into the clear. Bradman Best, as all good backs should, was in support and got the try.

It was a move that Tedesco hasn’t always had in his locker this year. Notably, the player he cruised past was Daly Cherry-Evans, never the best defender and one of the few men on the field older than him.

If it was his last act in Origin, it will be one remembered fondly. Certainly, there’s a strong argument that it should be the last thing he does in a Blues jumper.

Teddy debuted in 2016 in a dead rubber, and is the only man in blue remaining from that side. Tyson Frizell, the last hold out, was canned before Game 3 and Jake Trbojevic, also towards the end of his rep career, did not debut until 2017.

Indeed, Jurbo and Teddy are the only hangovers from the Laurie Daley era at all, with the likes of Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Damien Cook and Josh Addo-Carr joining for his first game in 2018, along with the non-injured Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell and Nathan Cleary.

It might be that this victory presents the perfect opportunity for Tedesco to walk off into the sunset. Next time around, with another year’s worth of footy in his legs, the choice might not be his.

The fullback has already achieved pretty much everything in the Origin arena, with three series wins, a Wally Lewis Medal in 2019 and three Brad Fittler Medals as the best in NSW.

Throw in the World Cup as captain of the Kangaroos and caps for his Italian heritage and you have a rep career that is right up there with the best of them.

Those closest to him must be having the conversation, either now or at the end of the year, about whether he should jump before he is pushed.

If a Kangaroo team was picked tomorrow, Tedesco would be in it because he is the incumbent captain, but were it picked on form, he would not be. Reece Walsh, behavioural indiscretions aside, would be the form fullback.


For the Blues, there is a strong case for a stylistic change – a Dylan Edwards-style player – or an injection of fresh blood in Clint Gutherson, Scott Drinkwater or, if they were ever fit, Turbo or Latrell.

NSW has more fullbacks than it can currently squeeze into a team – so much that incumbent Dally M Medallist Nicho Hynes doesn’t even come into the reckoning despite having played there for much of his career. 

If a new coach comes in, then all bets might be off. They could well sit down with the captain and suggest that his work is done, the same way that Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah sat out after Daley left.

Gallen took the initiative and retired himself after 2016 – even suggesting that Farah should take over from him as captain – but the Tigers legend was dumped after being moved to the bench in clubland. He never returned to Origin.

It’s a cautionary tale for Tedesco. Gallen left of his own accord and was repeatedly asked back. Nobody said that to Farah.

Gallen’s decision to leave rep footy behind him also prolonged his club career, giving him another two and a half years at the top. Tedesco, again, might do well to take note.


As captain of NSW and Australia, he was the only player to feature in every game of State of Origin and for the Kangaroos at the World Cup in 2022, plus a long season with the Roosters.

That made him the fifth most active player in the world. Of the Kangaroos, only Val Holmes played more – by dint of the Cowboys going further in the NRL – while Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton and Dylan Brown all went to the Grand Final and the World Cup semis, as did the most active player, St Helens and England fullback Jack Welsby.

Crucially, none of those players are anywhere near as old as Tedesco – Holmes is next closest at two and a half years younger – and none of them are also the captain of every team they are in, with all the extra mental effort that requires.

There was a period last season where the captaincy aspect really seemed to drag on Tedesco. Across the 2022 Origin period, he lost five of six games: two for NSW and three for the Roosters.

He was close to the best individual in all six, but was forced to front the press conference on each occasion and promise to do better.

This year is even worse: Teddy has lost eight of the ten games he has played since the start of May. At least now, with the CBA-induced player media boycott, he doesn’t have to sit through losing pressers.

Tedesco is a champion and would never admit it, but all that has to catch up with him. The constant games and constant pressure must take a toll.

Bowing out of rep footy is the easiest and most sensible way to make it stop. He might continue through another round of Kangaroos fixtures – if they ever take place – but beyond that, it should be it.


Few will have earned their carriage clock as much as the Blues captain. All he needs to do is to know when it’s time to pick it up – before someone else makes the call for him.