‘I felt like s…’: Tedesco fallout to brutal Sivo hit
James Tedesco reckons the first headaches never arrived until three days after being knocked unconscious by Maika Sivo.
But then, when they did?
"Oh, I felt shit," he says. "The headaches, they were real bad. Like migraines.
"I started feeling slow, too."
"It was weird," the Roosters superstar continues. "Especially coming so long after the game. Lasted for a couple of days, too."
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Which was more than a little concerning for rugby league's greatest player.
Same deal his teammates.
With Tedesco revealing how even now, eight weeks on, nobody inside Roosters HQ wants even to relive the shocking collision with him, much less make light of it.
"Nah, hasn't been mentioned," the Fox League ambassador says of that attempted tryline tackle on Parramatta's powerhouse winger in Round 6. A shocking collision which left the 27-year-old sprawled unconscious on Bankwest Stadium for minutes.
"At the time, I think all the boys were fairly worried.
"Obviously it was a big collision and I was out before even hitting the ground.
"Watching replays, you can see I hit his elbow.
"I know a lot of people think it was my head hitting the ground that knocked me out.
"But as I went in for the tackle Maika's elbow hit my jaw - that's what got me.
"Which is fine.
"You learn from it."
Yep, if ever you wanted to understand how James 'Teddy' Tedesco has risen up to be named rugby league's greatest player this past month, look closer at that hit which almost rendered him a white chalk outline.
Usually, it's Tedesco athleticism creating highlight reels.
A truth which makes it easy, or at least easier to forget how this livewire Kangaroo, he's also a lesson in toughness.
That, and selflessness.
Asked to describe the impact of Sivo, who squats an asonishing 285kg, Tedesco says simply: "Brick wall.
"Given Maika had braced for the collision, he was like rock.
"I've got no idea how long I was unconscious for. But apparently as I was laying on the ground, my neck also got in a really weird position.
"That's why initially the trainers wanted to get me a stretcher."
Yet when Tedesco came to, one of his first thoughts was wanting to walk from the field.
Which again, explains why he attempted said tackle in the first place.
A play which - tagged "brave" by Roosters coach Trent Robinson - is simply one more moment for this fella who has fought through a swirl of problems all busted ACL, severe ankle surgery, even reteaching himself to run.
NRL'S PREMIER PLAYER
A footballer who, in a result surprising no one, has also now usurped Melbourne great Cameron Smith as the code's best.
According to a recent NRL Players' Poll, Tedesco is now considered by his peers as the new No.1 - with the Roosters poster boy earning 49 per cent of the vote to beat out both North Queenslander Jason Taumalolo, and Smith in third.
"Which coming from the people you play against, means so much," he says.
But as for his own pick?
"I still find it difficult to go past Smithy," Tedesco insists. "Even now, the way he controls that Melbourne team and does what he does, it's special."
Almost immediately however, the Roosters fullback added there were plenty more vying for top spot, including Taumalolo, Cam Munster, Jack Wighton, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, even his own No.6 Luke Keary - a playmaker who is no stranger to putting his body on the line either.
Indeed, just as Keary endured his own head knock issues last year, so now Roosters captain Boyd Cordner is also set to miss their Thursday Night Football showdown against Storm, with the backrower sidelined for a third week because of concussion-related symptoms.
Which may also explain why no one is too keen to discuss that Sivo whack, right?
"Immediately after the Eels game, I actually felt fine. Could remember everything," Tedesco says.
"Initially, Robbo wasn't keen for me to play the following week - especially given we had a short turnaround - but after a few days I felt sweet.
"I wasn't showing symptoms and got through our first training session no problem.
"So it was like 'fair enough, you've proved you can play'."
But that afternoon when Tedesco returned home, the first headache arrived.
All up, his symptom severe enough to eventually require being cleared by an independent GP.
"And when I saw the doctor, she actually asked if there was any pressure coming from my coach to play," he says.
"But I told her no, not at all.
"Maybe at other clubs it's common to get pressure. I don't know.
"But not from Robbo.
"As you're seeing with Boydo now, our welfare always comes first."
SONNY BILL WILLIAMS
Wonderfully, Tedesco is also now readying to be reunited with another NRL rival who once trampled him at the tryline - New Zealand megastar and new Roosters recruit Sonny Bill Williams.
"It was 2013, when I was at Wests Tigers," the fullback recalls. "We were playing the Roosters, defending our tryline and Sonny ran straight over the top of me to score.
"I remember it well, him charging off a short ball.
"Sonny in his prime and me, a 20-year-old just trying to do my best
"It wasn't a great match up."
But not worse than the Sivo collision, surely?
"In the moment against Parramatta, that one actually felt like the right play," Tedesco insists. "Get your body in front and wrap up the ball.
"But Sivo, he's a brick.
"And in the weeks since, I've actually seen a few boys go low on him in the same situation. Which is when I thought to myself 'yeah, should've done that'.
Originally published as 'I felt like s…': Tedesco fallout to brutal Sivo hit