In-form Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco is prepared to delay necessary surgery on a nose that has been broken several times if he's selected for the end of season Four Nations trip to the UK.
While Brisbane custodian Darius Boyd is the incumbent and a certainty to be first-choice fullback if fit following a dominant representative season for Australia and Queensland, Tedesco is arguably the form fullback in the NRL and a strong chance to make the squad.
A badly broken nose suffered during his Origin debut in Game Three in July courtesy of a Johnathan Thurston swinging arm was the most obvious of his issues, but it was neither the first nor last time this season it caused him problems – which started in the pre-season from some friendly fire.
"I broke it at the start of the year during pre-season, Mitch [Moses] actually broke it at training, then I got another knock on it in Origin. It keeps getting knocks, on the weekend I got another one," Tedesco said.
"It's hard to breathe and I keep getting blocked airways. Hopefully I'll get it fixed at the end of the year."
He said there are some sinus sprays he can take on game days to help clear it up but can't use them constantly, meaning it gets harder to breathe and sleep during the week.
"It will be a little (operation) I'll be getting at the end of the year, and they said after my career is finished I'll have to get a proper one to get it fixed up.
"With the sinuses, one side has pretty much closed up. I can't get any breathing through there. One side's all right, it comes and goes a bit."
Tedesco copped knock last Saturday against the Eels but said the minor operation required can be delayed until after the post-season tour if he is called up by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga.
"If I do get picked for that I can hold off and have it after that. It's not a big surgery, it's just no contact for four to six weeks. I can get that done whenever I'm not playing," he said.
In the short term Tedesco is expecting to face Thurston for the first time since Origin III when the Cowboys travel to Leichhardt on Sunday afternoon.
The Maroons and Kangaroos playmaker hasn't been named for the Cowboys after pulling up tight with a hamstring injury against the Bulldogs in Round 20 and missing last week's loss to Melbourne, but the Tigers are expecting him to play.
"We're training like he'll play, and if he does, that's a good challenge for us to know we can do it against a top team. We're looking forward to that challenge," Tedesco said.
Added his captain Aaron Woods: "They'll be fired up. They haven't named [Thurston], but we're expecting him to play.
"They're coming off a loss and the Raiders just jumped them on the ladder as well so they'll be fired up for this game, no doubt. If we continue playing the way we've been playing I'm sure we'll give them a good run."