Tedesco ready to own the middle
SYDNEY Roosters fullback James Tedesco is already firming to win the 2019 Dally M medal after promising coach Trent Robinson to "own the middle" of every NRL game he plays.
On the eve of his Thursday Night Football clash with Brisbane at the SCG, Tedesco has opened up on the new, attacking blueprint that already sees him sitting top three for linebreaks, tackle busts, even Dally M betting odds.
Currently, the NSW Origin star is paying $11 for rugby league's most prestigious gong with Ladbrokes, behind only Melbourne No. 6 Cameron Munster ($8).
Asked about his start to 2019, Tedesco revealed that apart from being "the strongest I've ever felt", he was also reaping the benefits of a new game plan drawn up by head coach Robinson.
"Myself and Robbo, we've talked about me owning the middle," Tedesco said. "Things like acknowledging quick plays the balls, supporting our big forwards, our dummy half, taking my chances there.
"So that's what I have been focusing on.
"Obviously we've had a couple of wet games which has restricted the ball movement. But I've been happy with how I'm owning the middle and over time want to expand on that."
According to the Fox Sports Lab, Tedesco boasts significant touches and support plays in the middle of the field, especially inside his own half.
The Blues No. 1 also has four linebreaks - one behind Brisbane winger Corey Oates and St George Illawarra's Jordan Pereira - while his 16 tackle busts are also second only to Oates, who leads the competition with 18.
"Breaking tackles and running strong, that's always been a strength of my game," Tedesco added.
"I've had a great pre-season. The (strength) program we've got here at the Roosters is great, and this is definitely the strongest I've ever felt."
"Having that success we did last year last year, it's given me a lot of confidence.
"So the main thing for me now is keeping my body fresh and healthy. Getting those consecutive games together."
Elsewhere, Tedesco also suggested Parramatta recruit Blake Ferguson, his close friend and former premiership teammate, should definitely be considered for a NSW Origin return in 2019.
While the Roosters No. 1 was spotted giving his old mate some words of advice after a misfired grubber kick in last Friday's match - "I just said, mate, too heavy, you needed to take a bit off" - he insisted the Eels were a far better side with Fergo in.
"I'd already told Mitch (Moses) and a few of the other boys what a big plus he'd be," Tedesco said. "Every kick return he's there on play one to give you a big carry.
"I think you sometimes take it for granted, how much that impacts your go forward."
So an Origin return?
"Definitely," he continued. "He (Ferguson) was the best winger in the competition last year and has started this season on fire too.
"So I don't see why NSW shouldn't consider him
"Obviously there are a lot of great wingers in the game right now but after his past year, the way he's handled himself on and off the field … we miss him here at the Roosters."
After a first-up loss to arch rivals South Sydney, the Tricolours have since responded with consecutive wins over Manly and Parramatta.
"Although we haven't been as crisp as we'd like," Tedesco said. "Given the wet conditions, we've had a few errors and our completions have been down.
"But we've stuck to our strength which is powering through the middle and creating opportunities off quick play the balls.
"And while there's a lot of improvement to go with our execution and completions, we know the longer we go the better we'll get with that."