James Tedesco could make a return to the NRL field this year should the Wests Tigers make it deep into the semi-finals.
The club said Tedesco is set to miss four to six weeks after undergoing surgery on a broken jaw suffered in Saturday’s loss to Gold Coast.
The Tigers have a massive task in front of them to qualify for the top eight without the NSW fullback.
His only chance of playing again is if the Tigers make it to at least the second week of the finals, however he remains a chance to make his Australian debut as part of the end-of-season Four Nations series in England.
“It was a nasty break, but he’s confident it’ll be about four to six weeks,” Tigers physio Peter Moussa said.
“That’s the protocol for any fracture management.
“He’s in good spirits. He texted me just before saying he wants to get back into it. I can’t hold him down. But it’ll probably be about two weeks before we get him back to any sort of training.”
The news comes as the Tigers accused opposing teams of targeting Tedesco.
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 opposition 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.”
The loss of Tedesco is set to be offset by the inclusion of halfback Luke Brooks however the star No.1’s injury 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.