James Tedesco is in the box seat to keep his Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues No.1 jersey, while Tom Trbojevic is more likely to find himself on the wing – that’s the message from assistant coach Danny Buderus.
The former Newcastle, NSW and Australian hooker has been closely working with head coach Brad Fittler all season as they aim to put together a side for the series opener on 6 June. Buderus, who also narrowed the state’s halves options into a list of three candidates, told Fox League’s The Late Show with Matty Johns that both Tedesco and Trbojevic could fit in the team.
“I think that we do, yeah, for sure,” Buderus said when asked if he had a clear idea about the fullback option. “Tommy Trbojevic has been outstanding the last couple of weeks […] the way he plays those four-on-four short sides, he’s a big body.
“He gets the ball back as good as anyone, but I just think maybe Tedesco at this stage has got the upper hand.”
Tedesco and Trbojevic, who have widely been considered the prime candidates throughout the opening 12 weeks of the season, met in Round 9 as the Roosters held on for a 22-20 victory over the Sea Eagles at Allianz Stadium. With Trbojevic’s form picking up in recent weeks, Buderus appeared confident that there would be a place for him in the Game One team.
“Yeah he could play (on the wing), or in the centres,” Buderus said. “To get him in the game where you want him to play the style of play, you probably have to put him in the outside backs – out on the wing.”
If Trbojevic is to be named on the flank, it leaves two centre positions to be filled – and while one option, James Roberts, will have to contend with a possible achilles injury, the other contender is the Roosters’ Latrell Mitchell.
“There’s going to be a lot of debutants, there’s no doubt,” Buderus declared. “At this stage it’s going to be fresh, it’s going to be an exciting team, it’s going to be fast and someone like Latrell’s going to play a role.
“I don’t think you can always have a complete player – you’d like to be better at defence, you’d like to be better at attack – but you’ve got to get the key attributes, tailor them by the game plan and really get them engaged in the game.
“I think that’s one thing for Latrell: if he gets engaged I think that’s where you get the best out of him.”
While Buderus’s comments shed light on the possible make-up of the team’s back line, selections will not be finally announced until Monday night, when the side will be revealed exclusively on NSWRL.com.au. Until then, Trbojevic’s Sea Eagles and Tedesco and Mitchell’s Roosters will face the Raiders and Titans respectively in NRL Round 12.