Tedesco never a captain before Origin rise

Scott Bailey
·2-min read

The last time James Tedesco captained a team he was leading out the Camden Rams in junior Group Six rugby league as barely a teenager.

Or at least so he thinks.

Tedesco is arguably the game's best player but as he prepares to skipper NSW in State of Origin for the first time on Wednesday night he acknowledges his experience is low.

He has never led the Sydney Roosters, or for that matter, the Wests Tigers before that.

He was never a captain for the Tigers in under-20s, nor for Western Suburbs in Harold Matthews of SG Ball.

A quick check has confirmed Tedesco didn't even captain his school side at St Gregory's Campbelltown, with former Tigers forward Matt Groat given the job ahead of him.

"Maybe I captained at Camden (as a kid)?" Tedesco said.

"It's cool, it's a pretty proud moment to be named captain and lead us out in a must-win game in Sydney.

"You can't get much better than that.

"I just wanted to make sure we took what we had to from the Game I and look forward to Game II, lift our energy and just be excited to play."

Tedesco's rise to Blues leadership is rapid, after coach Brad Fittler opted to hand him the leadership role ahead of Damien Cook, Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic.

In doing so, Tedesco becomes just NSW's third captain in seven years, with Boyd Cordner's withdrawal due to repeated head knocks marking the first Origin game he's missed since 2016.

But as tedesco prepares to skipper a senior side for the first time, he insists he won't let it change him or his game.

"I just want to be myself and not change too much," the 27-year-old said.

"Talking will improve and go up at training and before the game.

"Boyd takes control but with him not there it's more of a responsibility for me and for a lot of us.

"Freddy (Fittler) spoke about that, it's been three or four years since Boyd hasn't been here.

"He's usually that calming voice but it's time for all of us to step up as leaders."

Cordner has also driven that message home to Tedesco, telling him to be himself in his parting message as he left camp on Friday.

"He's a good one to learn off, he's one of the best leaders and captain," Tedesco said.

"I have watched him over the past couple of years. I have had three years with him at the Roosters and also NSW and Australia.

"I just see how he presents himself and the way he talks.

"His energy before and through the game he speaks with a lot of energy and passion."