Tedesco suddenly No.1 with a bullet for Blues

James Tedesco at Wests Tigers training. Photo: AAP Image.
James Tedesco at Wests Tigers training. Photo: AAP Image.

ANOTHER standout game against Manly and the calls for Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco to be the latest to wear the NSW No.1 jersey in the opening game of the State of Origin series will become deafening.

It's never a surprise when players offer up the names of their teammates when asked about Origin selections.

But when opposition NRL players and those from Queensland start talking you up, selectors have to take notice.

Blues coach Laurie Daley has a number of choices at the back, but the 23-year-old Italian international is getting in early, producing an eye-catching game against the Warriors in round one, dominating at times and scoring the defining try after the Warriors stormed back into the game in the second half.

All up, Tedesco carved out 174 metres with 17 carries, but it was the qualities he displays that have Origin written all over him.

Tedesco is a very tough kid. Knock him down and he'll bounce straight back and go again and again.

He has that Origin factor of effort upon effort that coaches love.

While Queensland has had the same No.1 for a decade, with Billy Slater playing 27 games since 2004, the Blues have struggled to find a permanent custodian.

During that golden period in which Maroons won nine of the 10 interstate series, the Blues have battled.

Josh Dugan was Daley's choice last year, but the Dragons star still has to convince many that fullback is his best position.

Former Parramatta superstar Jarryd Hayne played fullback in the Blues' only series victory over Queensland in 2014.

Prior to that, NSW had also used a number of players, including Manly's Brett Stewart (2012), Rooster Anthony Minichiello (2011), Newcastle's Kurt Gidley (2009-10) and Parramatta's Brett Hodgson (2006).

Hayne appeared the Blues' saviour until he stunned the rugby league and sporting world by walking out on the Eels to chase a dream to play NFL which he is still doing at the San Francisco 49ers.

With Dugan less than convincing in the No.1 jumper, Penrith's Matt Moylan battling a back injury and Stewart missing the first two rounds for Manly with worrying hamstring issues, Tedesco can continue to make hay while the sun shines.

New Tigers captain Aaron Woods and experienced representative hooker Robbie Farah will be putting in a big word for Tedesco with Daley, who already has several Origin selection dramas.

Skipper Paul Gallen is facing six weeks on the sidelines which could work in Daley's favour.

Farah is currently a month or more away from returning from surgery in his damaged meniscus but Daley has Michael Ennis as a capable back-up if needed.


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