Injured fullback James Tedesco admits he would have been a chance to play on Friday night against the Brisbane Broncos had the Wests Tigers qualified for the finals.
Instead, the Tigers' season came to an end in Round 26 as they were humbled 52-10 at Leichhardt Oval by a rampant Raiders side that ultimately finished the year in second place on the Telstra Premiership ladder.
Tedesco missed the match - as well as the previous fortnight - after breaking his jaw in a Ryan James tackle against the Titans back in Round 23.
Speaking to NRL.com at the Tigers' presentation night on Tuesday, the star fullback revealed he was feeling fine in terms of his fitness, but admitted he wasn't sure if he was mentally ready for the physicality of finals footy.
"I'm not sure," he said when asked if he would have been right to take on the Broncos.
"I would have had to have gone through a few tests. It feels pretty good at the moment and the recovery has been pretty quick. It would have been touch-and-go but I probably would have been confident enough to have a run.
"I felt fine at training last week. The main thing would have been the contact work and I would have had to have tested that out a lot more before I was any chance of getting back on the field.
"All the running was fine but I wouldn't have been 100 per cent confident that it would be fine until I'd done some contact work."
The hardest part for Tedesco wasn't the injury itself; it was watching his teammates from the sidelines as they saw their finals hopes slip away against an unstoppable Green Machine.
On the bright side, he said, the path ahead looks encouraging for a Tigers side brimming with youthful talent.
"It was tough. All the boys were pretty confident and had that self-belief that they could get the job done. I was confident that they could do it too so it was obviously disappointing to watch," he said.
"There was an opportunity there for us this season, but overall we're pretty happy with how things have gone in 2016, especially at the end of the season.
"A lot of us haven't played finals before so it was an opportunity for us to do that this year, but hopefully we can take that form into next year and play finals for many years to come.
"How we played at the backend of the year gives us a lot of confidence and the future is looking bright."
While he won't get a chance to make his finals debut this year, the season mightn't be over for the 23-year-old with a spot in the Four Nations squad a distinct possibility.
Tedesco said he hadn't spoken to Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga yet but confirmed he would be fit and firing should he be selected.
"I'll be right by then," he said. "It's a goal of mine to play for Australia so if I did get that chance then I'll take it with both hands."
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