Tedesco’s relentless hunger to be better
Being a superstar will never sate the rugby league appetite of Roosters fullback James Tedesco.
He knows he will never master the game but he has vowed to be relentless in his pursuit of excellence.
Be it his passing game, support play, kicking or defence, Tedesco has learned from former teammate Cooper Cronk that anything less would invite laziness to creep in and stop him achieving his ultimate goal - to be the best.
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However, rising to another level of excellence this season won't be easy for a player who last year won an NRL premiership ring, the prestigious Dally M Medal, RLPA players' champion award, Wally Lewis Medal, Brad Fittler Medal, Jack Gibson Medal as the Roosters' best and fairest and the Kangaroos' Harry Sunderland Medal.
"I don't want to rest on my laurels," Tedesco said. "Everything I do I want to be the best.
"You can never master every skill in rugby league but if I'm being lazy and not doing my skill practice or extras, I won't get better or be the best.
"You have to keep working hard at it every week at training. I learnt a lot about that from Cooper (Cronk). He was 34, 35 over the last two years and he was still practising those little skills.
"You'd have thought he would have mastered it but he spent hours practising. That showed that no matter how good a player you are, or how long you've been playing, you can still get better.
"I am happy with my strength but my passing I can execute better. Support, I want to be on every support. Defending, I want to save more tries this year than last year.
"My kicking game, I can get better at that. Everything.
"There is no sense of anyone at the Roosters lying back and thinking everything is done. Everyone is doing their extras. That is the environment at the club.
"Robbo (coach Trent Robinson) knows how good a player you are and how much you've done in the game but if you're not playing good footy, you won't be in the team.
"There are always young kids coming through who are knocking on the door."
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Last year Tedesco scored the match-winning try in the grand final win over Canberra and the match-winner for NSW in the final seconds of the game-three decider against Queensland.
"I don't think about those achievements too much,'' he said. "I just try and think about my footy and how I can get better.
"If I am doing things better than last year then maybe it will be a better year. Who knows?"
Tedesco said there was a little deja vu in the World Club Challenge win over St Helens last weekend.
"It just felt like last year, the way we played," he said.
"We had B Moz (Brett Morris) and Tupes (Daniel Tupou) out the back field, Jared (Waerea-Hargreaves) and Sio Siua (Taukeiaho) up front leading the way, (Luke) Keary leading us around the park.
"We were missing Cooper (Cronk) and Latrell (Mitchell) but Kyle (Flanagan) did a really good job for us. He has been really good for us all pre-season.
"We had Angus (Crichton) out in the centres, he was solid. It honestly didn't feel like much has changed. It was a pretty good feeling."
KFC SUPERCOACH INSIDER
James Tedesco, FLB, $781,500
We didn't think Teddy could get better after his brilliant 2018 but he did - significantly. The Roosters superstar improved his KFC SuperCoach average from 74 to 84 and he therefore starts as the most expensive player for the upcoming season. While the greatest stats of all are the two premierships and two Origin series wins, Tedesco finished 2020 six points per game better than the next best player Payne Haas. That's a significant gap and SuperCoaches are backing it to happen again with Teddy currently the second most popular fullback-only player.
- Tom Sangster