James Tedesco is ready for his battle with Billy Slater in the second State of Origin match.NSW star James Tedesco has credited his forward pack with laying the platform for his man of the match performance in the State of Origin opener, and says things will be looking good for the Blues in game two if they can do it again.
Tedesco looms as a pivotal figure when NSW attempt to seal a series victory at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, with Queensland on high alert for his breaks through the ruck.
But while the NSW fullback doesn’t completely expect the opportunities to dry up.
“There’s always going to be chances late in the either half, when everyone gets tired. It’s just up to the smaller guys like the halves, hooker and myself to see them,” Tedesco told AAP.
While the Blues’ backline have been heralded for their combined 41 tackle breaks in game one, Tedesco said a good performance by the team’s forward pack at the MCG allowed them to play over the advantage line.
And no matter when the Maroons devise to stop him in game two, he declared he’ll be ready.
“I’m used to being targeted. Maybe with some kick returns, they could target be more,” he said.
“Obviously they’re going to try and tighten up the middle of defence. But if we get those quick play-the-balls again, it’s hard to stop.”
The match also marks the rare occasion where Tedesco faces Queensland champion Billy Slater.
Despite making his debut in 2012, the 25-year-old has only faced the incumbent Kangaroos fullback five times across the NRL and Origin arenas – winning just once.
Tedesco, who is likely to be a prime contender to replace Slater’s spot for Australia at the end of the year, said he was relishing coming up against one of the game’s greats.
“I actually can’t remember the last time I played him. Obviously I was expecting to come up against him in game one,” Tedesco said.
“It’s always a big challenge coming up against him. It’s only his last couple of rep games now so no doubt he’ll be in for a big one. But I’m ready for it.”
Tedesco is ranked third in the NRL for tackle breaks, metres and kick return metres, but leads the league in support plays.
TEDESCO v SLATER
2013: Rd 5: Melbourne 26 bt Wests Tigers 12
2013: Rd 16: Wests Tigers 22 bt Melbourne 4
2017: Rd 4: Melbourne 22 bt Wests Tigers 14
2017: Origin II: Queensland 18 bt NSW 16
2017: Origin III: Queensland 22 bt NSW 6
Australian Associated Press