If James Tedesco upon entering Roosters HQ for the first time was asked to describe his perfect year, the events of 2018 would come close.
No player plays for individual accolades, there is nothing better than sharing success with your teammates. However, Tedesco’s trophy cabinet at home would be glowing given the three medals and ring he’s received in the past month.
NRL PREMIERSHIP RING
The most prized possession in Rugby League is only small, but it’s what every player dreams of receiving.
When Tedesco signed with the Roosters their status as competition heavyweights dramatically increased, and that was before the name Cooper Cronk was even mentioned.
It was a shaky start to the year for the new look side, but experts constantly said that combinations need time to gel. They were proven right.
Luke Keary and Jake Friend had their best games of the season in the NRL Grand Final. Cronk’s influence was the story of the year in club-land. Along with Tedesco’s influence, the combinations had done more than just gelled – they excelled.
The Roosters first half against the Storm was simply outstanding. A first half showdown against the 2001 Newcastle Knights in that Grand Final would be an interesting showing.
They didn’t have to score another try; the mountain was too high to climb from there. Tedesco claimed what he set out to do when he signed for the Roosters, which was winning the Grand Final.
JACK GIBSON MEDAL
Tedesco was the Roosters’ best player all year; he set up more than double the tries that Cronk did. That’s nothing against Cronk, his influence ended up winning them the Premiership.
He set up 15 tries, made 15 line-breaks and scored nine tries. The best fullbacks are always supporting, and he topped the competition in that department with 634.
When Tedesco and Cronk combined for a long-range try in Round 2 against the Bulldogs that was a small taste of what was to come all year.
If winning the Grand Final wasn't enough, he received the Jack Gibson Medal just three nights later at the Roosters’ official presentation.
BRAD FITTLER MEDAL
The way Tedesco steps up his game at representative level is breath taking.
Since his debut in Game III 2016, Tedesco has excelled at State of Origin level. His performance at the Melbourne Cricket Ground this year is one of the best of all time.
If there’s ever a time to use the term ‘he had spiders on him’ then this is it. He broke through 17 tackles, which is significantly high at club level let alone in the Origin cauldron.
Across the three games he averaged just fewer than 170 metres and ended up breaking through 25 tackles. He scored two tries, set up a further two and made three line-breaks.
In a game where Queensland never give you an inch, those statistics are unbelievable.
In saying that, the 2018 State of Origin victory was a genuine team effort. The Brad Fittler Medal was an open field, so many players stepped up to the occasion to get the job done.
Perhaps winning the Brad Fittler Medal is that little bit more special given so many of his teammates came close.
AUSTRALIA V TONGA MAN OF THE MATCH MEDAL
After missing out on World Cup selection last year, James Tedesco finally made his Australian Kangaroos debut just two weeks after the Grand Final.
The retirement of Billy Slater means that Tedesco is arguably the best Australian fullback in the game. With Roger Tuivasa-Sheck claiming the Dally M medal this year, their international battles will be interesting to watch in years to come.
Alike State of Origin, Tedesco stepped it up another level when he pulled the prized green and gold jersey on.
From a team perspective, the Kangaroos were bitterly disappointed with their performance in Tedesco’s debut. Despite the defeat, the electric fullback still put in a great performance with a try, five tackle-breaks and two line-break assists.
It would be the next game where he shone above the rest, claiming man of the match honours in his first win for the Kangaroos.
The passionate Tongan crowd filled the stands with a sea of red and the game will be remembered for the occasion rather than the result.
Tedesco’s performance did not go unnoticed; he capped off a brilliant year with a brilliant performance. He scored a try, set up another, made two line-breaks and broke 10 tackles.
If 2019 is anything like this year for James Tedesco, all Roosters, NSW and Australian fans should get excited.