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Sliding doors: Tedesco's non-switch to Canberra works out OK

It was a sliding doors moment in what is turning into one of the finest modern-day rugby league careers.

Dual Brad Fittler medallist and Roosters premiership-winner James Tedesco, back in 2014 and at just 21 years of age, flew to Canberra to meet with Ricky Stuart and agreed to a switch away from his home at Wests Tigers before an 11th-hour change of heart kept him at Concord.

It was a very rare piece of bad PR for the likeable Origin and Kangaroos star but both parties can afford to smile about it now as Tedesco's Roosters ready themselves to confront Stuart's Raiders in the 2019 Telstra Premiership grand final.

"That was so long ago – I was young at the time and had a big offer from them," Tedesco said.

"It sounded good at the time but once I had a good think about it I didn't want to leave where I was.

"I was obviously very comfortable at the Tigers having been brought up through that club and I didn't want to leave. It was obviously a bit of a shambles, the whole thing, but that is just my journey. I've ended up here and in another grand final. I can't argue with that."

Get Caught Up: Finals Week 3

The issue attracted more attention than it would have when Tedesco and fellow Raiders target Josh Mansour were snapped in Canberra, which Tedesco described as a manager tip-off to the media.

"Classic. Me and Josh," Tedesco shrugged.

"Everyone thought I signed but I agreed over the phone. I went down on Thursday and [Stuart] rang me on Saturday to have a decision. It was a very quick thinking process.

"I was 21 at the time. I didn't even know about the June 30 rule or whatever that was. When I had a bit of time to think about it I felt a bit more comfortable to stay at the Tigers and now I've ended up here … where I am at the moment I can't complain."

Tedesco said he used to cop a bit of stick from Raiders fans and also admitted Stuart was "wasn't happy" at the time. In Tedesco's next game against the Raiders he broke his kneecap on the first play of the game in a collision with Terry Campese and missed the rest of the season.

In the five years since he has gone from strength to strength and enters Sunday's decider as arguably the best player on the planet, and with a chance to become the first team since the 1992-93 Broncos to win back-to-back titles.

"It is different coming in as reigning premiers into a new year," he said.

"Everyone who plays against you wants to play their best game. We have had a lot of injuries and young kids come through. It has been a different year. We always had the goal of going back to back, now we get the chance."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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