Tedesco ticking boxes as Tigers' best
Achieving his overarching goal for season 2015 once Josh Dugan's penalty goal sailed between the posts in the Wests Tigers' 32-30 loss to the Dragons in Round 26, you could forgive James Tedesco if he cracked a smile.
Considering his wretched run with injuries that have dominated his four-year career in the NRL, the 22-year-old established great confidence from playing in every game possible this season for Tigers – something he's never done before.
Speaking at the Tigers' Grand Final Luncheon on Friday, where he was presented with the Tigers' Players' Player and Members' Choice awards, Tedesco labelled the accolades from the season a great honour.
"It's pretty special to me, I wasn't really expecting it considering the players we have here but I was just happy with my year personally to be able to play every game and I think to get some consistent form was a good achievement for me," Tedesco said.
"That was the first goal I came up with coming into the pre-season was to play every game and I was a bit doubtful over whether I could do it at the start of the year because I'm not really used to going through a whole year.
"It's a tough slog and when you're not winning games it definitely makes it a lot tougher so I'm definitely happy with that achievement and these awards are a good bonus from that."
While the positives of playing will put him in good stead for seasons ahead, it's not without its perils.
Two weeks ago Tedesco underwent stem cell surgery on his previously reconstructed knee in a bid to strengthen the joint.
"I had a needle in my stomach to take the fat out and mix it with blood in my arm and put it in my knee. There's not much cartilage or meniscus left down there so it's a matter of a bit of extra protection," he said.
"It was a bit sore during the year consistently playing games so hopefully the procedure will help that. I just have to sit back and relax and hopefully get away for a bit eventually and enjoy the time off."
Expected to be fit for the first day of pre-season Tedesco expects skipper Robbie Farah to be right beside him – with his contract situation ongoing.
"When I first came into the first grade squad guys like he and Benji were the first ones to lead you around the park," Tedesco said. "Robbie's leadership and experience, you can't really replace that. He's been awesome, the whole time I've been here, he's been great."