Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco has lit up the NRL with two blistering displays in the opening fortnight of the competition. Copyright: Col Whelan/NRL Photos Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
You can forgive Pat Richards if he tells you that he has seen this one before.
A young, fast-stepping fullback who not only scores tries himself but can make his teammates look like superstars with his blistering speed.
Richards had been at the Wigan Warriors for two seasons when Sam Tomkins made his English Super League debut and over the next six seasons the pair scored an astonishing 311 tries in 375 games. Now, in his return season to the NRL at the club he left way back in 2005, Richards is on the end of a Wests Tigers backline whose No.1 can hit the after-burners with the flick of a switch and can step on the brakes, change direction and fire them up again in an instant.
"He's just killing them so far, he's got unbelievable footwork and acceleration off the mark and he's such a talent to play with and I'm just excited," Richards said of the current Tigers custodian, James Tedesco.
"No one knows where he's going to run sometimes and it's great to have someone like that at fullback. He can run at full speed and stop and change direction at full speed so it's incredible what he does with his feet, he would be very hard to tackle that's for sure."
In two games together Richards and Tedesco have scored a combined five tries with Tedesco acting as provider for two of Richards' four-pointers. Tedesco's pure speed playing out the back of a halves pairing that boasts the experience of Braith Anasta and precocious talents of Luke Brooks creates space for the Tigers' outside men that would not ordinarily be there.
By getting onto the outside shoulder of the defender – as he did in the opening minutes of Sunday's clash with the Titans – Tedesco attracts the attention of the winger and draws them out of position, leaving Richards with a clear path to the tryline.
He has been credited with two try assists in two games, 14 tackle-breaks and more than 350 running metres and is quickly reminding everyone why City Origin selectors were so eager to have him in their side after just four first grade games and only three games back from an ACL injury that ruined his 2012 rookie season after less than 30 minutes.
But as exciting as Tedesco's early season form has been, a developing partnership with 19-year-old halfback Luke Brooks has the potential to ignite the black-and-gold attack for the next decade.
Twice on Sunday Brooks's mature kicking game created space for Tedesco, the first into the Titans in-goal for his fullback to score and the second putting him into a wide open Titans back-field, where Tedesco put in a kick of his own that Brooks duly recovered to score the final try of the 42-12 rout.
Even against a sloppy opposition who handed over possession time and again, it was the youthful exuberance of Tedesco and Brooks that shone brightest.
"They're good players and we know they're good players and although it was hot, they did enjoy creating some space for themselves and other people," said Tigers coach Mick Potter after his side's 30-point win.
For Richards, who has seen plenty of potential superstars come and go, the emergence of Brooks in particular should be managed carefully as he begins his education in running an NRL team.
"He's got the big comparisons to the greats and all that but he's a good kid and he's not really worried about anything like that," Richards explained.
"He's training really well and going out there and performing well, that's my advice to him, just continue to do that."