Reality kicking in for Tedesco
James Tedesco is using the final five weeks as a Wests Tigers player to go out on a high and push for an Australian jersey at the end of the season.
Tedesco represented Italy in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup but will be high on the Australian selectors' list when the 24-man squad is announced in October.
He was named on the wing in Mal Meninga's merit team after a strong Origin series for the Blues but is under no illusions he's stuck behind formidable custodians Darius Boyd and Billy Slater.
"We'll just have to wait and see but pulling on the green and gold jersey at the end of the year and being a part of the squad is definitely a goal of mine," Tedesco told NRL.com.
"Billy played great in the Origin series and Darius is there as well who is the current Australian fullback.
"That was my goal coming back from Origin to use the last seven or eight games to play some decent footy and with some of my best mates who I may never play with again.
"I want to make the most of that opportunity."
A personal milestone is also on the horizon for the 24-year-old before he joins the Sydney Roosters for the next four seasons – scoring his 50th club try.
It could prove a difficult mission after a luckless run with nine disallowed tries in 2017 and a three-game dry spell against the Panthers, the only side he is yet to score against in his 85-game career.
"I forgot that I haven't score against them yet, I think I had a 'no try' earlier in the year too out at Campbelltown when we played them," Tedesco said.
"This will be my last chance in Tigers colours to do that and I've got one more try to get to 50 so hopefully I can get there.
"It would be nice to finish with that strike rate and I'll be doing everything possible."
Tedesco admits he's had an up and down season on-field on the back of announcing his departure and put some of the high disallowed try rate on the back of his own wrongdoing.
"It's been frustrating, especially the one's where I'm running back through the middle I do get worried that I could get myself into a bit of trouble," he said.
"I don't really plan on where I'm running so it is hard for the boys to get out of the way sometimes. It's something I'll continue to work on even next season when I'm at the Roosters."
Sunday's clash with the Panthers looms as a danger game for the home side as the Tigers look to cause an upset and make life difficult for their Western Sydney rivals.
Their 26-4 victory over the Titans was a reflection of the side's patience in the past fortnight after succumbing to a one-point loss against the Eels a week earlier.
"I think it was our most convincing win for a long time with how we closed out the game," Tedesco said.
"We were building towards that so it was a satisfying result."
Tedesco joked Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary had already given the side strict instructions on taking down son Nathan, before insisting the Panthers were a threat across the park.
"We've been instructed there will be a bit more emphasis to put kick pressure on Nathan," he laughed.
"In all seriousness when he runs the ball that's when he's dangerous and as a back three we need to be alert of that."
The Watene-Zelezniak brothers will also go toe-to-toe to add further family rivalry to an already intriguing battle.
"It will be a competitive day all-round but we'll look to play the way we did against the Titans," Tedesco said.
"Penrith an exciting team who are a bit hot and cold but when they're on, they're on and the back five are most important to shut down."