Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah says James Tedesco's stunning decision to turn his back on a massive payday with Canberra proves that "loyalty is still alive."
Just one week after agreeing on a reported $2 million move to the nation's capital, the Tigers fullback shocked the rugby league world on Wednesday when he had a sudden change of heart. And it all came to a head over a coffee with Farah yesterday afternoon.
"I didn't give him any words of wisdom to keep him here. I guess I was offering him someone to talk to," Farah told the media on Thursday.
"[We] went for a coffee and obviously I gave him my advice. There was two things: You need to be 100 per cent sure in your decision; and two, do what's best for James Tedesco.
"Obviously he was concerned about other people and what people were going to think and upsetting certain different people. But at the end of the day, I just told him to do what he wanted and we'd support him with whatever he was happy with and his decision was to stay."
By Wednesday evening, the Tigers had sent a media release explaining Tedesco's decision to renege on a deal that would've made him the highest paid player at the Raiders.
Tigers CEO Grant Mayer insisted the club did not upgrade its offer to the Camden junior after the Canberra formally announced their prized signing last Tuesday, nor did they continue to attempt to convince him to back out of the deal.
"I can be honest about that: we didn't make a move. The reality is that it's dumb luck in our regards," Grant said.
"We sat back, we made our very best offer last week before he made his decision and when he made his decision that was it as far as he was concerned. We made our plans going forward.
"There was no using anything, there's no using [the] Round 13 or June 30 [deadline], whatever you want to call it. The reality is, that clause was there for a reason. When he thought about it himself, he wanted to come back and the timing was right."
Coach Mick Potter said his fullback had cut an "uncomfortable" figure at training over the past week, and sought to address the issue before Tedesco met with Farah on Wednesday.
"You could just tell that he was uncomfortable... I let him know my theories – that I didn't want to lose him and the club was trying their best and all that sort of stuff," he said.
"We went through the process, but I put no pressure on him or anything and I left the decision for him."
The re-signing of Tedesco – and his willingness to stay for less money – is a major boost for a club that has already tied up young stars David Nofoaluma, Curtis Sironen and Aaron Woods this year.
"[It] just goes to show that money isn't the be all and end all and at the end of the day," Farah said.
"There's a really good young core of players here, a group that we're hoping to build the club around. They've all signed up long term and that was a very hard thing for him to walk away from. Loyalty is still alive, I guess."
Tedesco was the third off-contract star to spurn the Raiders in a week, with Storm forward Kevin Proctor re-signing with Melbourne last Tuesday while Penrith winger Josh Mansour re-committed to the Panthers on Monday.