James Tedesco is on one hell of a roll right now. (AAP Image/Darren England)
James Tedesco is on one hell of a roll right now. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Tedesco’s time has come

MAL Meninga has told James Tedesco that it his "his time" ahead of Tedesco's Kangaroos debut.

Tedesco finally gets the chance to don the No.1 jersey following Billy Slater's retirement with the Roosters premiership winner staking his claim to be Australia's long-term fullback.

"I've waited a bit - now I've got that No.1 it's up to me to keep it," Tedesco said. "To get this opportunity it's at my own will to keep it for as long as I want. Slater held this position for a long time now but Mal has said it's my time.

"I'm excited. Mal has talked to us all about the Australian jersey and what it means. Coming into this squad you feel a bit overawed about playing for Australia."

 

A Kangaroos debut on Saturday night against the Kiwis caps a dream 2018 for Tedesco. He made a much publicised off-season switch to the Roosters before going on to win the Blues player of the year award. He walked away with a premiership ring and now a Test jersey.

While Tedesco made his mark at the Tigers because of his attacking brilliance, it was his defence which was a standout this season.

Time to get to life after Billy Slater.
Time to get to life after Billy Slater.

"Robbo (Roosters coach Trent Robinson) made it clear from the start that defence will be our No.1 priority," Tedesco said. "The first week we had three wrestle sessions and I was thinking this was not that much fun.

"Everyone said at the start it would pay off. All the hours we put into defence - people doubted us early because our attack wasn't great but we knew with the players we had in our team the attack would come.

"By mid-year it was all clicking. I don't think many coaches think how Robbo does with how detailed he is. Like organising a (defensive) line, communication and having different strategies against different teams .

"I don't know many teams would teach it the way he does. Not many fullbacks would've been able to learn the stuff I did. That was good for my confidence, trying to be the complete fullback."

The hard work paid off for the Roosters attackers. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
The hard work paid off for the Roosters attackers. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Robinson praised Tedesco's defensive traits following their grand final win against Melbourne. But the coach and his star are fullback are in agreeance regarding Tedesco's attack.

"Robbo was speaking after the season - the defence he wanted to get out of me has hit 100 per cent of where he wanted to get to," Tedesco said.

"Attack didn't hit 100 per cent. That's the exciting bit heading into next year, I still have a bit left to prove on in attack. I feel that too. It's on the increase.

"Robbo said I was up there (in attack) but I feel like there is more for me to exploit. I got to where I wanted to be by the end of the year. Still areas I could improve and get involved more. We have a similar team next year so it won't be a case of being comfortable at the start of pre-season. I will be straight into it."

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