Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues captain James Tedesco believes star centres Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell could put themselves in the box seat to claim the Wally Lewis Medal if they turn in strong performances again in Game Three of the Ampol State of Origin series tonight.
While downplaying his own chances despite being named Player of the Match from Game Two, the 2019 Wally Lewis Medallist said it had been difficult to ignore the form of Trbojevic and Mitchell from the opening two games of the series.
The Wally Lewis Medal is awarded to the best player from either state who has performed well over the course of three games. Tedesco, Trbojevic and Mitchell have been in outstanding form although there have been no shortage of great players from the Blues this year.
“Those two have played their best footy,” Tedesco said.
“I’m especially happy for Latrell being out of the team and coming back in and playing his best footy (because) that’s been awesome for us.
“There’s a lot of little things from Latrell that a lot of people don’t see, but all those effort areas that Latrell needed to work on he’s done it and he’s done it the best out of everyone in our team.
“Tommy’s a freak and everyone knows he’s playing the best footy he can.
“They’re two of the top players. They play fullback but go to centre and they’re probably the top centres in the game so it just shows how good they are as players.
“It doesn’t surprise me to be honest because I’ve played with Latrell and I know how talented he is and Tommy has just always been a freak and he’s in top gear at the moment.
“I know how good they are, and I know they can still get better as well.”
Trbojevic was named Player of the Match from Game One after a dominant performance in the 50-6 win in Townsville that included a hat-trick of tries, 215 running metres, a line break and a try assist. Mitchell wasn’t far behind him with two tries, 167 running metres, two line breaks, two try assists and a line break while Tedesco ran for 212 metres and had a try assist.
In Game Two in Brisbane, Tedesco was named Player of the Match from the 26-0 win after a game that included 234 running metres, two line break assists and two try assists. Mitchell was enormous after scoring a try, running for 176 metres and coming up with several big plays in the first half that changed the momentum of the game, while Trbojevic scored a try, spoiled one for Xavier Coates with some last-gasp defence, had a line break, a line break assist and ran for 180 metres.
The performances of the star centres have not gone unnoticed by coach Brad Fittler either.
“If you went through Latrell’s highlights over the last two games for NSW, the majority of them are defensive highlights and the other ones were changing the momentum of the game out of our own end,” Fittler said.
“They’re big team plays and that alone just makes him that much more dangerous.
“On the other hand, Turbo has a similar story. He’s come off a couple of years with an injury that can really put you down and keep you down and get you worried and stressed. But he’s come through it and is dealing with it and copped some flak early in the year and has dealt with it very appropriately and maturely and as a professional.
“Both their stories are fantastic.”