Form continues for unstoppable Tedesco
Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco survived an early injury-scare to once again stamp his claims as the form fullback in the NRL.
The Campbelltown crowd held their collective breath when the competition's leading try-scorer was helped from the field having collected accidental knees from Cronulla's Luke Lewis in the opening-minute of Saturday's 34-26 loss to the Sharks.
"I sort of copped a bit of a knock in the ribs and the head," the Tigers fullback said after the game.
"The ball bounced back, I grabbed it and I just copped a knee right there [in the head] and in one of the ribs as well. I remembered it all. I wasn't too dazed. It was a bit of a head knock, but you've got to take those precautions.
"It was a bit annoying for a first touch but I got through the tests alright. I thought I had to get out there and do something down 6-0.
"I think I was a bit lucky that it wasn't too high in the temple. It's a bit sore. A bit of a lump there, but I got through the game alright, so I'll just rest up. We've got an eight-day turnaround so I think it should be sweet."
After passing the mandatory concussion tests, Tedesco returned in the 16th minute keen to make up for lost time.
It took barely 60 seconds for him to make an impact, setting up David Nofoaluma with lightning quick hands for the Tigers' first try of the evening before beating Chad Townsend with a brutal fend five minutes later to give his side the lead.
"I think I was feeling a bit more fresh. A few of the boys were a bit tired after 15-20 [minutes] because I don't think the boys had much ball in that first 20," Tedesco said.
"I came out and we had the ball straight away so it worked out well. That's a big part of my game in attack, to create opportunities, and I did that a bit – but probably not good enough in the end."
The Tigers superstar added another try in the 54th minute – his seventh of the season – but it would be in vain as the Sharks scored twice more to run out eight-point victors.
Having raced out to an early 10-point lead, the Tigers seemingly went away from their attacking game plan and Tedesco said his side needed to go for the jugular if they want to finish off quality teams like the Sharks.
"I think we all need to compose ourselves a bit when we do hit the lead. We need to keep playing footy and not try to protect it. I think we probably try to do that a bit too much," he said.
"We were in the box seat there and felt on top, but then we gave away penalties on the fourth and fifth tackles and get them into our half too easily. They kill our energy and we're starting our sets off on our line. We've got to fix that if we want to compete with the top teams."
While the team didn't get the win, Tigers back-rower Chris Lawrence was nonetheless in awe of what his star fullback had produced given his early setback and like many others was happy to endorse Tedesco for a State of Origin berth.
"Whenever you see a teammate down you hope for the best for them and hope it's not too serious. Once we got to him and trainers let us know that it was nothing serious, we just had to get on with the game," Lawrence said.
"He really leads with his attack and what he can do with the ball. Tonight's effort was nothing out of the ordinary for him.
"I think he has to be there somewhere. He's got an X-factor about him where he can break tackles and score long range tries. His running game and his kick returns are impressive as well."
Asked if there was anything Tedesco couldn't do, Lawrence said: "At the moment it doesn't look like it. He was great for us tonight."