The late inclusion of Tedesco alters cohesion but does not destroy it

The Second-Choice Blues, not a Lisa Simpson saxophone song, but it is an apt description of the New South Wales backbone, premiering at Accor Stadium on Wednesday night.

You can probably throw in captain too with Jake Tbojevic getting the job after Nathan Cleary and Cameron Murray were ruled out through injury.

James Tedesco is undoubtedly the second-choice full-back, called into the squad after the Panther who replaced him suffered a thigh injury during training at the weekend.

If all were fit and available, the halves would be Cleary with Parramatta’s Mitchell Moses as his playing partner, while Reece Robson got the hooker spot on merit of the selectors, although Queensland would have been more nervous if Api Koroisau was in the paper on Wednesday. evening.

And while all this doesn’t mean the Blues are lost in Origin I, the cards are stacked against them.

Tedesco’s late retirement at fullback gives Michael Maguire little time to set up combinations on each edge.

The Roosters veteran has played plenty of football at Origin level with Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton and Brian To’o, but Edwards knows his nuances inside and out thanks to his four consecutive Grand Final runs in Penrith.

And Tedesco has no experience with rookie duo Zac Lomax and Joseph Suaalii or very little in the case of running back Nicho Hynes and Robson.

Maguire is not the type of coach who will tear up a game plan a few days before kick-off and readjust his tactics around Tedesco’s strengths.

You will have to adapt. Tedesco is smart enough to know this is a new era for New South Wales.

The 30-year-old was a key component of Brad Fittler’s six-year reign but was sidelined by Maguire when selecting his first team.

Tedesco’s withdrawal after Edwards’ untimely thigh injury at the weekend would have been an awkward situation for the two minutes.

Dylan Edwards at NSW Blues training. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Neither he nor Maguire burned their respective bridges when Edwards got the nod and regardless of what a Maroons legend like Gorden Tallis with a not-so-hidden agenda of disrupting the Blues may say, it’s far from “embarrassing” to bring him back. return to the fold.

What else should Maguire have done with Tom Trbojevic injured: go for Latrell Mitchell due to his lackluster recent form, go for an unknown product like Scott Drinkwater or rush Clint Gutherson in just a week after a knee injury?

The absolute option in left field would have been to move Hynes to the backfield, where he excelled during his Storm days early in his career, and play Moses at running back after his spectacular return from a foot injury last week, but that would have also been an option. a huge gamble and caused further disruption by potentially weakening two positions.

Tedesco’s club, the Roosters, have significant influence on the media landscape, so there have been many counterpoints to Edwards getting the nod before him, both in recent times and in recent years.

But the hard facts are that his form is nowhere near what he was when he was arguably the best full-back in the game four or five years ago.

In last year’s Origin series he missed more tackles than he made, 7-6; It’s difficult to have a high tackle efficiency percentage as a fullback because a lot of your defensive work is done in isolated, one-on-one situations.

But that was the first time Tedesco’s Origin rating fell below 66.67%.

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In attack, the question facing Maguire is whether to try to involve Tedesco in passing the pill to the left or right flanks or get him to be a hole-runner.

Edwards’ strength with the ball in hand is his ability to create space with his pace and feed a cross to Steeden, who often has to simply draw in the overmatched end defender to present either of Penrith’s wingers with a walk to the try line.

He averaged 38 touches per game in the NRL this year, while Tedesco has 30 with the Roosters.

In fact, Tedesco leads Edwards in total try involvement at club level this season by 22-18, with only Drinkwater (23) ahead of him.

Blues youth player Isaah Yeo said the team had confidence in Tedesco “knowing that there is someone who has been there and done that, better than most on that stage.”

“He’s been fantastic for NSW for a long time. “It is his 23rd consecutive game, that is not done by chance, it is achieved by standing out with that shirt,” he told reporters on Monday. “It’s happened in Queensland in previous years where they’ve had late withdrawals, so come Wednesday night there’s no excuses.”

Win or lose on Wednesday night, there will be calls for the Blues to reshuffle or completely overhaul their lineup, particularly with Moses back and Murray potentially available to be selected as well.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 13: James Tedesco of the Blues reacts during game three of the State of Origin Series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 13, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

James Tedesco. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Even if he has an absolute blind, Tedesco should see this match as an opportunity to retire on a high note.

His former Roosters teammate Mitchell Pearce had a perfect Origin farewell when he replaced an injured Cleary in the 2019 series decider and played his part in the Blues’ memorable victory, which was sealed in the last seconds with a try of none. apart from Tedesco.

Edwards is now the number one choice for the NSW number one jersey and should eventually make his Origin II debut unless his thigh injury is much worse than originally feared. He will miss this weekend’s Penrith match against Manly and hopes to return next week to prove his suitability for Origin II.

Tedesco has the opportunity to prove that not being the first choice doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact, even with just a few days’ notice.

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