Tedesco the star the Tigers need
Following his show-stealing performance in the Wests Tigers' 34-16 win over the Storm, exhilarating fullback James Tedesco proved why he has now become the poster boy of the club's efforts to revisit their glorious past.
In the years following their 2005 Premiership win, the Tigers have had martyrs such as Benji Marshall, Brett Hodgson and to a degree current captain Robbie Farah suffer as individuals in their efforts to help the club's cause.
In Tedesco they have another genuine star who is bound for higher honours next year. He is fresh, unaffected by external factors at the club and a kid who is simply loving his footy in a largely inexperienced spine.
His two tries and two try assists against the Storm were just another testament as to why Farah fought tooth-and-nail to convince the 22-year-old to backflip on the Raiders after he signed with Canberra last year – something the veteran rake is still thankful for doing.
"Can you see why [I did it]? He's a special player and I'd hate to think how much worse we'd be going if we didn't have him here this year," Farah said.
"He's only going to get better and he might be already one of the best fullbacks in the competition. But he's been outstanding for us this year and I'm glad he's still at the Tigers.
"He's a threat every time he gets the ball – he has genuine pace out the back, he's an instinctive player, he always seems to turn up in the right spot and he has good hands."
With the Tigers burying a five-game losing streak against Melbourne thanks hugely to the form of Tedesco, the Camden Rams junior himself shied away from his performance.
Just one example of the Tigers' youthful roster, the well-spoken Tedesco subconsciously revealed tendencies of a 200-game veteran rather than highlight the mere 40 games he's actually played.
Talking of how the memorable win will help boost the Tigers' confidence, Tedesco too emerged as a future leader of the club especially when referring to how his side kept themselves motivated after going 10-0 down against premiership heavyweights Melbourne.
"In previous games we'd talk about staying positive when things weren't going our way, and with starts like that after they scored two tries against us we'd usually have our heads down if it were earlier on in the year," Tedesco said.
"But to have a comeback against a team like the Storm, it was a great effort. We'll be confident off that so hopefully we'll have a good end to the year.
"Personally I'm still building every week. Especially when it comes to plays out the back and trying to set up my outside man. I was lucky enough to get a few tries and a few assists but I think the boys up front really set it up for us.
"They are pretty hard to contain Melbourne, they have a lot of dangerous players but yeah, we did well."
As for the rich Raiders contract he reneged on just one week after signing it last year? Let's just say Tedesco is happy to have stuck around, even if it means playing in a team which is still very much searching for its identity.
"Even though we aren't where we probably want to be ladder-wise I'm still glad I could stay and I'm happy to be playing with the Tigers," Tedesco said.
"I enjoy everyone's company, I enjoy coming to training and we have stayed positive obviously through these tough times. If we can keep this group of players then there's only going to be good times ahead."