The Raiders have kicked off their 2015 recruitment drive in earnest, landing the services of rising Tigers fullback James Tedesco until the end of 2017.
The 21-year-old took the NRL by storm with a series of eye-catching displays across the opening rounds before succumbing to an ankle injury, and has been the subject of plenty of speculation as contract negotiations with the Tigers dragged out over the past two months.
Tedesco's signing is a coup for Canberra as it plugs the gap left by the imminent departure of Anthony Milford to Brisbane at the end of the season.
Canberra CEO Don Furner said the signing of Tedesco, who has played 25 games for the Tigers since debuting on 2012, was a marquee one for the club as coach Ricky Stuart continues to target big names including Kevin Proctor, Michael Ennis and Josh Mansour as he builds a playing roster of his own.
“James is an outstanding young talent who we see as a big signing for the Raiders and we look forward to him joining the club at the beginning of the 2015 season,” said Furner.
“The Raiders have followed James’ progress from his days at St Gregory’s College Campbelltown and we know being from Camden, James will fit into the lifestyle and culture here in Canberra.”
Wests Tigers CEO Grant Mayer said the club was disappointed to see Tedesco leave after they had managed to retain the vast majority of a juniors stable that will form the nucleus of Tigers sides over the coming years.
“James has grown up in the Wests Tigers system and we’ve made it absolutely clear that developing local juniors is a priority for this club,” said Mayer.
“In the last 12 months we’ve retained local juniors Luke Brooks, Aaron Woods, Tim Simona, David Nofoaluma, Curtis Sironen, Mitchell Moses and Sauaso Sue, and are disappointed to confirm that James will leave the club at the end of the 2014 season.
“The discussions with James’ management were complex. When another club identifies one of our players as their marquee signing we simply cannot compete with that,” he said.
“We wish James well in his new venture and thank him for his dedication and commitment to Wests Tigers over the past eight years.
I wish James well with his future. Disappointed that we missed out but can assure all that we gave it a good shake. Opportunity 4 others.— Grant Mayer (@gcmayer) May 27, 2014
Tedesco informed his team mates of his decision this morning, and was adamant he would be fully committed to the Tigers as they look to build on their surprise start to the year.
“It wasn’t easy to tell the guys, they are a great group of players, and close friends of mine,” said Tedesco.
“This wasn’t an easy decision for me to make and I’d like to thank Wests Tigers for their support during the process.
“I’m fully committed to Wests Tigers for the remainder of the 2014 season and can’t wait to get back onto the field and join my team mates,” he said.
“We’ve had some good wins to start the year and are confident that we’ll be in the mix come finals time.”