Shades Of Minichiello As Tedesco Blitzes Maroons
James Tedesco wants to be the number one fullback in the NRL.
And following his man-of-the-match performance in Wednesday night's Holden State of Origin opener, where he scored a try and was involved in two more, he can lay claim to being the best custodian in the game at the moment.
In the heady days of NSW dominance during the mid-2000s, Anthony Minichiello was often NSW's yardstick because he supported well, set up tries and used his running game to open up the Queensland defence.
That's precisely what Tedesco did at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It was a scintillating individual performance, giving coach Brad Fittler reason to believe Tedesco can be a key component in a series-winning squad.
The Roosters number one was at his silky best, running for a game-high 224 metres as NSW recorded a dominant 22-12 victory.
From his first touch of the ball, the fullback used his swerve and pure speed to get over the advantage line.
Tedesco helped get NSW their first penalty after a fast run out of dummy half close to the Maroons' line.
By the 20-minute mark, the fullback was easily his side's best metre-gainer in attack.
A minute later, he ran twenty metres to finish off a Damien Cook run, scoring NSW's first points.
In the blink of an eye, NSW led 8-0.
Buoyed at his early confidence, his rookie backline - Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts and Josh Addo-Carr - went about their work swiftly and calmly.
Tedesco spoke in the lead-up this week about his improved communication.
Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts and Josh Addo-Carr could be forgiven for getting a case of the nerves in front of 87,122 fans but - particularly in the first half - they showed calmness and composure with the ball in hand.
You can bet the fullback offered them a few words of encouragement moments before kick-off.
Enjoy it. Soak up the atmosphere. Know your role.
When Valentine Holmes streaked away to score a length-of-the-field try in the 27th minute, the youngsters could have been rattled.
The Maroons began to up the ante in attack and defence, got more possession and threw more at NSW's goal-line.
But Fittler's men held firm - much of it down to Tedesco's communication and confidence at the back.
More points were required, and still, in a roaming role, Tedesco turned play maker and spread the ball after halftime to an invigorated Mitchell.
And in the shadows of full-time, Tedesco embraced his young backline colleagues in celebration.
It's the dawn of a new era for NSW and their fullback.