Gorden Tallis doubles down after 'embarrassing' State of Origin claim about James Tedesco

Tallis has given his thoughts on Tedesco's State of Origin recall.

Gorden Tallis is standing by his controversial take on James Tedesco's State of Origin recall for the Blues after describing it as "embarrassing". Tedesco was originally overlooked for Michael Maguire's first Blues Origin squad as Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards won the battle to claim the No.1 jersey for NSW, with Tedesco subsequently replaced as captain by Manly's Jake Trbojevic.

But the Blues were forced to rush Tedesco back into the side over the weekend after a quad injury to Edwards dashed the Panthers No.1's hopes of making his State of Origin debut. Tallis referred to it as a "strange" call from NSW to bring Tedesco back into the squad after clearly looking to the future by picking Edwards. And the Maroons legend said "there would be a feeling of embarrassment" for Tedesco upon making his return to Blues camp.

On the right is Maroons legend Gorden Tallis and Blues State of Origin star James Tedesco on left.
Maroons legend Gorden Tallis described James Tedesco's recall to the NSW State of Origin side as 'embarrassing'. Pic: Getty

The comments from Tallis were pounced on by veteran News Corp league reporter Phil Rothfield on NRL 360 on Monday night. “I was very surprised by your comments yesterday that you’d be embarrassed to be recalled. Turn it up,” Rothfield said to Tallis before the league great doubled down on his eye-opening take.

“But that’s just me Buzz. That’s my own feelings. I’ll put myself in those shoes if I got overlooked,” Tallis replied. “I felt bad when I was injured hanging around the players. When I broke my neck in 2001 and Alf (Allan Langer) came back in that third game, I actually felt embarrassed to be around the guys.

“That (my comment) wasn’t about Tedesco, that was about if I got called back into camp with being overlooked and the captaincy taken off me, I would have a funny, guilty, embarrassing feeling. He’s not going to feel like he did when it’s his first jersey to getting this jersey back and that’s the point I’m trying to make.”

Pictured left to right is Dylan Edwards and James Tedesco.
James Tedesco was recalled to the NSW State of Origin squad after a quad injury ruled Blues fullback Dylan Edwards out of Game I in Sydney. Pic: Getty

The show's host and former Blues star Braith Ansata said he understood where Tallis was coming from and could sympathise with Tedesco's situation having been dropped from Origin himself in the past. “I understand what Gordie’s saying. Gordie is spot on,” Anasta said.

“This is just being honest, but you wouldn’t feel the same. If you get called back after being dropped, you were the second option. Listen, I have no doubt Teddy is going to have a great game and he only just missed out and he’s Blue through and through. I wouldn’t know if it’s embarrassment but it’d be a little bit of a bitter pill to swallow. We’ve both (Anasta and Tallis) played Origin and we’ve both been dropped so I know the feeling.”


Maguire's initial decision to select Edwards at fullback marked the first time the current Australian Kangaroos captain has ever been dumped from their State of Origin team. It was harsh on Tedesco - whose form has been excellent in 2024 - but just reward for Edwards and his consistency over many years.

Considering Tedesco's vast experience in representative footy though, it was essentially a no-brainer for Maguire to recall the veteran No.1 when Edwards was ruled out. And Tedesco said he harboured no resentment about being overlooked initially and was just determined to do his best for his state in Wednesday night's Origin opener in Sydney.

"My mentality is doing what's best for the team, playing my best footy and creating the win. That's the most important thing for me. We're at home, our first game here, it's really important to win that first game. You get off to a good start and that's definitely my goal at the moment...

"I've played in a couple of these before, so I know what it takes... I know how most of these guys play and I know them on a personal level, so that definitely helps coming into camp. I've got a couple of training sessions with them together, so just building that connection. But it is a different preparation than I've had before."