New South Wales Origin fullback is a tag James Tedesco should get used to following his rock solid debut in the Blues' 18-14 Origin III win over Queensland on Wednesday night.
Tedesco was one of NSW's best having made a whopping 260 metres and six tackle breaks, and he was almost the man who secured the Blues' late win on the tackle prior to Michael Jennings's 79th-minute match-winning try.
Only a last-gasp tackle from Maroons halfback Cooper Cronk prevented Tedesco from scoring a try on his Origin debut.
"I had the picture in my head leading into the game: a try on debut. To win the game for us, it would've been a fairy tale. My legs just didn't have it though," Tedesco told NRL.com of his late charge towards the tryline.
"I was that buggered by the end of it. I did my best to get the quick play-the-ball though and when I saw Jenko get over, even though I was too rattled to celebrate, it was a pretty awesome feeling.
"I knew the Queenslanders would have been scrambling and if we spread it wide we would've had our opportunity. We kinda did a Queensland on them, scoring in the last minute to win the game, so it was pretty special."
Sporting a fat lip and a bloodied nose in the aftermath of his debut, the reality of Origin football hit Tedesco hard.
Tedesco remained a cool customer under plenty of adversity at the back and credited Wests Tigers teammate Aaron Woods for what he described as an unperturbed build-up prior to throwing on his maiden sky blue jersey.
"I was thinking it might have been full-on all the time but we just did our thing at training and relaxed when we could. Being with Woodsy, it helped me relax myself as much as I could which definitely got me through the week," Tedesco said.
"Even before the game I was chilled out. I watched TV all day and it was quite relaxing until it was time to run out.
"Woodsy made me get up the front of the line – I think I was the second bloke down from Gal (retiring skipper Paul Gallen) running out there – and it was a feeling I'll never forget. It was truly a great experience."
The 23-year-old would've been forgiven for thinking his Origin debut wouldn't come in 2016 after a fractured shoulder blade threatened to ruin his season one week out from representative round in late April.
Tedesco said he strived for positivity in his five weeks of recovery with his representative chances seemingly dead and buried for the year.
"Obviously it was a disappointing setback and pretty bad timing overall," he said.
"My main focus was to get back to playing good footy for the Tigers. I worked so hard every day to get back.
"So to get this opportunity and get the win, I'm pretty proud of myself about it all."
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