James Tedesco isn’t used to being called the old boy or veteran in the NSW line-up as he eyes his 20th straight game for the Blues on Wednesday night while creating some history by doing so.
The Blues captain looks around and grins when he sees Tyson Frizell – the only man who was part of Tedesco’s Origin debut in 2016 – back in the fold. Frizell, a year older, is the oldest player in NSW’s Origin I line-up.
Tedesco though is set to enter the top 10 and join Paul Harragon and Steve Menzies for the most appearances by a Blues player in Origin history. His opposing captain, Daly Cherry-Evans, will also notch up his 20th game.
“It goes quick… I wouldn’t have thought I’d played that many,” Tedesco told NRL.com.
“I remember before my debut I was on the cusp but got injured a couple of times. I didn’t debut until I was 24-25. I thought I was late but have managed to string 20 in a row. It’s a pretty cool achievement.
“I’m the old guy in the team now. I’ve got the experience and need to lead by example and make these guys feel comfortable and confident.”
Tedesco usually turns up to Blues camp on the back of the Roosters pushing forward with their NRL season but in recent weeks the star fullback has been a dejected figure in press conferences trying to address the club’s results.
The Origin arena, however, is a different ball game with Tedesco eager to recapture some form on the biggest stage – a stage the three-time Brad Fittler Medal winner has always troubled Queensland on in the past.
“I feel good, obviously it’s hard work in progress at clubland at the moment but I feel like we took some steps forward last week despite not getting the result,” he said.
“I’ve got to park that for 10 days and put all my energy into leading this team now though.
“It’s a refreshed week on all fronts for me to come here and see some familiar faces, and the Roosters boys to have a bye and have some time off.”
Tedesco didn’t need reminding of the last time the Blues played in Adelaide in 2020, a match that ended in a shock 18-14 loss despite his side dominating for most of the contest.
He added the inclusion of Nicho Hynes off the bench and selection of Tevita Pangai Junior would give the Blues some extra firepower.
“It’s a really good team and I like how Freddy has picked it,” he said.
“We’ve got so much strike and Nicho gets a chance. I feel like our forward pack and bench is really strong as well.
“Tevita deserves it and will add a lot of impact for us. Even if it’s only for a short amount of time I know I can hang around him and he’ll create some opportunities.
“I’ve never had much to do with him but Nathan [Cleary] had some really good things to say about him when they played together at Penrith so it was good to hear from him and that gave us a lot of belief he could do a job for us.”
Away from the field, Tedesco is preparing for a life of a different kind with he and his wife Maria Glinellis expecting their first child in October.
The couple got married in January following the Kangaroos’ World Cup success.
“It’s exciting, we’re both ready for that. We had a 20-week scan last week and she’s all healthy,” Tedesco said.
“The boys all say it when they have kids and go home after a tough game it’s good to spend time with your child who doesn’t know much about footy world and only knows you as Dad.
“It’s good timing for the arrival in October where it will be the off-season and especially after last year’s World Cup where it was a really short break.
“All part of being 30 and married for me now.”