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What a difference a year can make.

After a 2012 season which lasted just minutes into Round 1, James Tedesco couldn't be blamed for simply setting a goal of finishing 2013 injury-free.

The Wests Tigers fullback, 20, did that and more, being awarded the Club's rookie of the year award and playing for City mid-season.

Now the highly rated youngster will find himself on the world stage when he represents his Italian heritage at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium against home side Wales in front of a possible capacity crowd of 75-thousand.

Tedesco felt enormous family pride when informed he was a likely selection for the Italy World Cup team.

"I was very excited," said Tedesco. "I've spent a lot of time with my grand parents, they're both Italian on my Dad's side.

"They're stoked and all my family is very excited.

"I just had to have a good season and get through injury free which I did. The body is feeling good and ready to go."

The first game against Wales will make up part of a massive opening day to the 14th Rugby League World Cup with that fixture set to follow an opening ceremony described by organisers as "the greatest show Rugby League has ever seen" and old rivals England taking on Australia.

With almost every hotel room in Cardiff booked out months in advance and excitement building rapidly, it's set to be a special occasion for the youngster who spent so much of 2012 doing the tough and testing yards associated with injuring his ACL.

Despite likely being on the receiving end of a passionate home crowd's disapproval, Tedesco will relish playing in the big match atmosphere.

"I'll be honoured to play over there on that ground against Wales," said Tedesco.

"Even getting booed will still be awesome, playing in front of a crowd like that in a massive stadium!

"There'll be a lot of fans there but we'll soak it up and do our best."

The Azzurri, who first played Rugby League in the 1950s before threats from Rugby Union effectively ended their participation at test level, have assembled a strong squad, despite the withdrawal of experienced halves Craig Gower and Terry Campese.

Italy are likely to be highly competitive in their debut World Cup.

"It's very exciting, there's a lot of NRL boys who are Italian," said Tedesco.

"It's unfortunate that Craig Gower and Terry Campese aren't playing with us but we've got both the Minichiello brothers, Aiden Guerra who has just won a premiership, Cameron Ciraldo and Kade Snowden as well.

"We've got some pretty big names, I think we're going to be a tough team to beat."

The Italy squad also features departing Wests Tigers NYC second rower Brenden Santi.

Italy fixtures:

Wales vs Italy - Saturday 26th October, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Scotland vs Italy - Sunday 3rd November, Derwent Park, Workington

Tonga vs Italy - Sunday 10th November, The Shay, Halifax

Acknowledgement of Country

Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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