James Tedesco urged to make serious change to his game amid damning NRL concussion reality

The Roosters captain has been told he must change his tackling technique after his tenth concussion.

NRL legends Andrew Johns and Billy Slater have urged Roosters captain James Tedesco to change his tackling technique before it's too late after another concussion in the Tri Colours' 26-30 loss to the Bulldogs on Friday. Tedesco was ruled out of the game early on after being knocked out while trying to tackle Viliame Kikau.

Tedesco attempted to bring down Kikau as the rampaging second rower sprinted down the left-hand side towards the Roosters' try line. The pair made heavy head-on contact, with Tedesco needing medical treatment after losing consciousness.

Pictured James Tedesco
James Tedesco has been told he must change his tackling technique before it is too late after his tenth career concussion in the Tri Colours' 26-30 loss to the Bulldogs on Friday. Image: Getty

Tedesco's concussion was ruled to have category one symptoms, meaning he will miss the Roosters' clash with the Knights on Thursday. It is the Blues fullback's 10th concussion in his 13-year career — but more concerningly it is his seventh in the past three seasons. And Johns believes most of his head knocks come down to poor technique.

"He takes his eyes off the target," he said on Nine's The Sunday Footy Show. "You've got to keep your chin on your chest but you've still got to keep your eye on the target. Teddy (Tedesco) gets into this situation with his last two steps as he drops his head.

"If you're going to make that tackle you need to keep your chin on your chest and keep your eye on your target — where you're going to hit. He drops his head and loses his technique."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 05:  James Tedesco of the Roosters  is attended to by a trainer after an attempted tackle on Viliame Kikau of the Bulldogs during the round five NRL match between Canterbury Bulldogs and Sydney Roosters at Accor Stadium on April 05, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
James Tedesco was ruled to have category one symptoms, meaning he will miss the Roosters' clash with the Knights on Thursday

Slater said similar when discussing the incident, pointing to the fact that he wasn't in the right position early enough. "Like, you start anticipating the linebreak and you move across there earlier so you're not moving as fast right at the contact," he said, using Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards' positioning as an example of what to do. "(He can get there and) steady up because you're not moving as fast."

James Tedesco's NRL career under threat from repeated concussions

With emphasis put on protecting players' heads in the lead-up to the NRL season, Tedesco's latest concussion is far from a one-off and is one of serious concern. Kalyn Ponga was similarly having concussions with concerning frequency last season and was sent to the US to try to tackle the problem as he weighed up calling it quits.

While Tedesco has made a blistering start to the 2024 season his tenth concussion in his career and more worryingly his seventh in the last three years could see his NRL career hang in the balance if he even gets just one more this season. The fullback was motionless on Friday night after the collision, calling into question what level of brain damage has been done throughout his career by the repeated knocks to his head.


Following the match, Dr Ameer Ibrahim, the Roosters team doctor, took to X to say: "Tedesco and Walker were fine after the match". However, his definition of 'fine' may not sit well with rugby league chiefs and doctors who are trying to tackle head trauma head-on.

James Tedesco says he is doing fine after latest concussion

But Tedesco insists his latest concussion isn't career-threatening, telling SMH he's recovered well and hasn't had any ongoing symptoms. "I’m all right, I’m not too bad. Obviously, it was a big hit but, after the game, I was able to come home with my wife and have a good sleep," he said.

"I’m pretty sweet today. It obviously looks like big contact, which it was, but it’s just one of those things. You can’t go high on the big fella. I was trying to go low and that happens. If I had ongoing symptoms after my concussions, I would be concerned. But I’ve recovered well from the ones I’ve had. I haven’t had ongoing symptoms, which some players have that have kept them out of the game a bit. If that does happen, that’s when it does get concerning.

"From my end, at the moment, I feel good. I’m up and about, I’ve definitely had worse ones where I’ve felt more foggy and had headaches. But I’ve woken up this morning after a good sleep and I’m feeling pretty good."