Debate may rage over who is the NRL's No.1 fullback but Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson thought James Tedesco provided a conclusive argument when he inspired their 30-16 win over North Queensland on Saturday night.
Tedesco's hold on the NSW No.1 jersey appeared under threat ahead of next month's State of Origin series opener after Manly match-winner Tom Trbojevic's scintillating NRL return from a hamstring complaint.
Indeed Roosters great Anthony Minichiello told NRL.com ahead of this weekend's Magic Round that the Blues were blessed with the greatest generation of fullbacks of any era with Melbourne's Ryan Papenhuyzen, South Sydney star Latrell Mitchell and Parramatta gun Clint Gutherson also waiting in the wings.
However Robinson was convinced Tedesco was still the man after proving the difference in the six tries to three win at Suncorp Stadium that included doubles by Daniel Tupou and Angus Crichton.
Tedesco ran for 214 metres and had three line break assists to inspire the Roosters' fifth win in seven games.
Match: Roosters v Cowboys
Round 10 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
But the highlight was Tedesco's remarkable run in the 51st minute, beating three defenders before throwing a miracle pass for Crichton to score and give the Roosters a 22-16 buffer.
It was the shot in the arm the Roosters needed after letting an 18-0 lead slip when the match was turned on its head with a Scott Drinkwater double following Sitili Tupouniua's sin-binning for a high shot.
The pressure valve was officially released for the Roosters when Cowboys back-rower Lachlan Burr became the latest player to be sin binned in the 63rd minute for high contact on Tedesco.
Tedesco at his magical best for Crichton to snare his second
The resulting penalty goal and Tupou's second try in the 72nd minute ensured the Roosters got home six tries to three in front of 45,155 fans.
"I thought Teddy carried us on his shoulders tonight. I thought he was a step above everyone else on the ground and that was the difference," Robinson said.
"He decided to own that game, and he did and we needed him to - it was a pleasure to watch him play tonight."
Asked if he believed Tesdesco was the game's No.1 fullback, Robinson said: "Yeah, he's an amazing player but there are amazing fullbacks out there and they are a pleasure to watch - thank God for fullbacks.
"We take it (Tedesco's form) for granted and we expect him to play a certain way and he does every single week.
"I have enjoyed the chat about the different fullbacks in the game because there are many wonderful fullbacks because they get the freedom to play the way they want to play."
Tedesco lifted another gear on Saturday night but Robinson did not believe it was in response to recent speculation Trbojevic was a worthy NSW No.1.
"Ever since he started playing it's all been an internal drive about how much can he get out of himself," Robinson said.
Tedesco and Morris create another try down the left
"He hasn't tried to mimic or mirror any other player. Even though I think he would know the challenge is out there, that's not his major driving force - it's an internal desire to be the best."
While Tedesco was superb, halfback Sam Walker's Midas touch appeared to lose its lustre against the Cowboys.
His form in his first six NRL games had this week earned a two year contract extension but there were chinks in his armour on Saturday.
He was a wayward 2-5 with his goalkicking, was steamrolled by inspirational Cowboy Valentine Holmes in defence as North Queensland launched their stunning comeback and at times looked frustrated in attack.
"That's the challenge for Sam. That's why it was a great game for him," Robinson said.
"I said he was going to learn on the footy field. We will teach him hard during the week but he got some really valuable lessons tonight - it's great."
Execution perfection from the Roosters right edge
Meanwhile, Robinson had no problem with the sin binnings in their clash despite critics sharpening their knives over the NRL's Magic Round crackdown on high shots.
"Based on the rules they both deserved to go (in Saturday's clash)," he said.
"It (crackdown) has been a bit over the top this weekend but...it will recalibrate after this weekend because there has been such an uproar over it but we also need to recalibrate the height of our tackle.
"You would prefer a pre-season to do it so the timing is an interesting one but in the end we have to do it.
"We have got to accept that we have to get our gun sights lower on a more consistent basis.
"I heard some people say it is not the game that I remember - just calm down, we will get there.
"We haven't got it right this weekend but they (NRL) will get it right. "Let's just wear it, enjoy Magic Round and end up somewhere (between) where we were last week and where we are this week."