The 'Origin Moment' That Won Tedesco The Brad Fittler Medal
12 minutes to play. NSW lead by four points. If they hold on, they win the State of Origin series.
It was all too familiar for James Tedesco, one of the six current players who endured the heartbreak of 2017 when Queensland snatched defeat with a try in the Northeast corner of ANZ Stadium.
It was all a case of Déjà Vu when Kalyn Ponga broke the line in the 68th minute and charged towards that same Northeast corner of the stadium.
The teeth of 82,233 people were unanimously grinding as Kalyn Ponga looked certain to score and once again break the hearts of NSW.
James Tedesco wasn’t ready to let that happen again.
As Josh Addo-Carr chased from behind, Tedesco chased from an angle with Ponga well on his outside, giving him the advantage given his speed and agility.
With 10 metres between Ponga and the try-line, Tedesco was the first man to the potential try-scorer and made heavy contact around his hips. He began to drag him down, and with the help of Addo-Carr stopped him three metres short of the line.
Ponga was destined to score given he is one of the most electric, genuine attacking weapons in the competition with such raw talent.
“But we had one better,” said Brad Fittler as he was presenting the award, acknowledging the effort it took to stop Rugby League's newest superstar from scoring.
“James Tedesco made the tackle and gave us a chance, and that enabled us to win the State of Origin series in 2018.
“In most Origin series’, it will always come down to one moment; there’s a lot of moments that give you an opportunity to win you an Origin series, but I thought the standout moment was when Kalyn Ponga broke the line.
“He had one player to beat, it was wet conditions, and [Ponga is] pretty much the slickest player in the competition at the moment.”
Tedesco is a genuine Origin player; he set the series alight even outside the remarkable try-saving tackles.
He broke a State of Origin record in Game I, making an unheard of 17 tackle breaks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Game II was the try-saving tackle, and even though the Blues lost in Game III, Tedesco scored the try at the end of the first to give his state a chance.
The Brad Fittler Medal candidates were a genuine open field given how many players performed so well, and Tedesco thanks his coach for that.
“I just wanted to back myself and Freddy brought that out in me and in all of us,” Tedesco said.
“Freddy and the coaching staff brought the best out in all of us; whether it was at training or in the game he wanted us to back ourselves.
“He knew we had a lot of talent, but that character really shone through.”
As a thank you for winning the State of Origin series, Fittler organised a special book to be made for each of the players.
In it was almost every article and photo written about each player, and there were plenty given the access Fittler gave to the media.
It’s a special piece of history that Tedesco and his teammates will always be a part of.
“Looking back at the book that we got tonight, some of those memories we will cherish forever and I loved every minute of it,” Tedesco said.
“I’m very honoured to receive the Brad Fittler Medal; just to be involved in the team this year and win the series was a big achievement for me but to get this medal tops it off.
“I could not have asked for a better bunch of blokes to spent that time with, I didn’t know many before I came into the team and we all got along that well off the field, and that showed on the field.”