Gold Coast forward Ryan James broke James Tedesco’s jaw to end his NRL season but the fullback insists there’s no bad blood as they look to push their claims for a Four Nations tour.
The duo will line up for the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII in Papua New Guinea on September 24, four weeks after Tedesco was injured by James’ swinging arm.
With the 23-year-old’s campaign finished, the Wests Tigers’ finals quest also fell flat in a final-round thrashing at the hands of Canberra.
“He gave me a handshake and asked how it was straight away, so there’s no bitterness there,” Tedesco said on Thursday.
“He’s a good bloke.”
Tedesco had four plates inserted in his jaw but was cleared by specialists earlier this week to make his Australian debut.
“I was pretty depressed in the first week just sitting on the couch watching TV but it’s recovered quite quickly,” he said.
Coach Mal Meninga has dubbed Saturday week’s match against the Kumuls a genuine selection trial for the October-November Four Nations tournament in England.
Nine of the PM’s XIII played State of Origin this year, while four – Josh Dugan, Greg Inglis, Semi Radradra and Blake Ferguson – represented in the ANZAC Test.
A strong game from Tedesco, who made his NSW Origin debut this season, could clinch a tour berth with Meninga indicating he’ll take a back-up fullback to incumbent Darius Boyd.
Australia are desperate to regain the No.1 world ranking from New Zealand, the reigning Four Nations champions.
The Port Moresby match marks the representative return of Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce, who finished the season as one of the NRL’s form halves after serving an eight-week ban for the Australian Day antics.
The 15-game Origin veteran has been touted as a potential utility player for the England trip.
But Meninga said Pearce would stay at halfback for the PM’s XIII.
“I’m looking forward to going over to Papua New Guinea, a country not as blessed as us, and giving back to the people over there,” Pearce said.
“I played there in 2011 – the game itself was a pretty crazy experience with how fanatical they are.”
Australia’s Four Nations squad will be named on October 3.