James Tedesco was forced to wear the battle scars following his State of Origin debut but made a compelling claim for a bright representative future and an Australian jumper.
The NSW fullback was among the side’s best in their 18-14 dead-rubber win in game three on Wednesday night at ANZ Stadium, running for a game-high 231 metres from 24 runs.
He was strong coming out of the Blues’ end, looked confident under the high ball and came within centimetres of scoring the winning try before being pulled down by Cooper Cronk.
After calls to be included in the Blues’ side for several years, he didn’t disappoint his legion of supporters and will come into consideration for the Kangaroos for the end-of-season Four Nations tournament.
While he will do well to unseat incumbent Australian No.1 Darius Boyd, who was among Queensland’s best all series, he could be an inclusion in the greater squad.
“It’s a step above. You do those plays three or four times in NRL, you’re going to get a result and Queensland’s defence just holds strong throughout the whole game,” Tedesco said of his first taste of representative football.
“It’s a good opening for me and if I get the opportunity next year, I’ll be better for it.”
Tedesco was sporting the scars of a torrid battle after being targeted all night by the Queenslanders.
He was wearing an ice pack on his knee after copping a cork and was left with a busted nose and lip after being hit hard by Greg Inglis in the first half.
“Greg Inglis got me a bit, it was pouring out blood from my nose for a bit and my lip (was swollen) as well,” Tedesco said.
“That’s all part of it, I guess.”
Tedesco blamed his corked knee as the reason for being run down by Cronk in the second-last minute after looking almost certain to score and was just pleased Michael Jennings crossed for the deciding four-pointer on the next play.
“I had it in my head – a winning try on debut would have been pretty special,” Tedesco said.
“I blame the cork – I got a cork late in the second half there so I’ll blame that.
“But Queensland, they scramble for every minute.
“I just wanted to get a quick play-the-ball and, to see Jenko score the winner, it’s pretty hard to describe – I was buggered.”