Blues shrug off Tallis barbs, insist Tedesco fits bill

Scott Bailey |

Late call-up James Tedesco will be fit and firing for State of Origin, the Blues insist.
Late call-up James Tedesco will be fit and firing for State of Origin, the Blues insist.

NSW have refused to engage in a war of words with Queensland great Gorden Tallis, remaining adamant James Tedesco will slot seamlessly into the new-look Blues.

Tallis fired the first shot of the State of Origin series on Sunday, claiming he would be embarrassed to walk back into NSW camp after being axed if he was Tedesco.

In years gone by, that would likely have prompted a curt response from the Blues.

But 10 years on from Paul Gallen’s “two-headed Queenslander” jibes, Michael Maguire and Jake Trbojevic weren’t interested in stoking the fire.

Trbojevic on Tuesday made it clear he didn’t want to discuss Tallis’s comments, and refused to say he “hated” Queensland when asked on camera.

But he is adamant his close friend Tedesco should feel no awkwardness after being dropped and then reinstated by coach Maguire after Dylan Edwards strained his quad.

“I don’t want to say anything about Gordy,” the Blues captain said.

“But (Tedesco) definitely shouldn’t feel embarrassed. He’s a great mate of all of us. 

“If you think about what he’s done for the Blues over the last seven years, he’s been our best player, without doubt. 

“Captain, got three Brad Fittler medals. A Wally Lewis Medal.

“He’s done a lot for the Blues. We welcome him back with open arms.”

NSW captain Jake Trbojevic.
NSW have welcomed James Tedesco back with open arms, captain Jake Trbojevic (pictured) says. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Maguire is rarely one to offer a headline, and he isn’t about to start doing so on the eve of his first game in charge of NSW.

“I don’t pay attention to anything (anyone has said),” Maguire said.

“It’s all about what we’re doing in camp. That’s how I’ve always done it.”

Maguire did want to make one thing clear though: Tedesco will adapt to the way NSW plan to play in Wednesday night’s series opener.

The long-time NSW fullback is in many regards a similar player to the injured Edwards, who the Blues had based part of their game-plan around.

But there are some differences. 

Edwards generally has a heavier focus on generating quick play-the-balls and finding his front in tackles, while Tedesco is known for bouncing off defenders.

The Penrith fullback is at his best acting as a playmaker on the right side of the field, allowing his halfback to play in a quarterback-style role and Jarome Luai to control the left.

“Teddy’s got the ability to be able to do that too,” Maguire said. 

“We’ve discussed how we want to set our game up, but Teddy will be able to express himself.

“He’s got his own little flair that we’ll bring into the game. And Teddy is a great professional.

“He just walked in and said, ‘What are we doing?’. He’s just adapted to that straightaway. 

“Training yesterday he didn’t miss a beat.”