Wests Tigers have accused opposing teams of targeting James Tedesco after the star fullback suffered a broken jaw that has all but ended his NRL season.
Gold Coast forward Ryan James is contesting a grade-two careless high tackle charge over the incident which injured a falling Tedesco after he fielded a bomb on Saturday.
For the second time this season Tedesco was on the receiving end of an ugly high shot, after having his nose broken by Johnathan Thurston in State of Origin III.
Tedesco’s family have slammed the NRL for not doing enough to protect stars such as the NSW No.1.
While falling short of suggesting James had malicious intent, Tigers winger Tim Simona said teams had been zeroing in on key stars such as Tedesco.
“He’s one of our main players and any key player in their team you want to limit their touches,” Simona said.
“Teams have been focusing on taking players out and for us Teddy is a big loss.
“Having said that, whoever’s going to fill his spot this week will do a good job.”
More will be known about Tedesco’s future as he recovers from surgery, although he is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
He remains an outside chance to make his Kangaroos debut as part of Australia’s Four Nations series in England.
Tedesco’s loss is a massive blow for the Tigers for whom September has come a month early.
Sitting in 10th and one point behind eighth-placed Gold Coast, they face massive pressure tests against Penrith (seventh), Warriors (ninth) and Canberra (third) in the run home.
Tedesco has been the side’s best this year but they have proven they can win without him.
According to Fox Sports Stats, they have won two of four games with him on the sidelines and eight of 17 with him in the team.
Jordan Rankin is expected to slot in at No.1 for the Tigers, his teammates confident in his ability.
“(Tedesco) is a quality player and if he’s not setting up tries, he’s scoring tries,” Simona said.
“He’s one of the main players in the team.
“But Rankin is a good quality player and he’ll fill the spot, he won’t let any of the boys down.”