Tedesco eyes new running style
This article first appeared on NRL.com and is used by permission.
Phil Gould once described it as violent, but James Tedesco and the Wests Tigers are trying to turn it into something graceful.
After three surgeries on his left leg in three years – and a subsequent big-time investment in it – the club is working on helping their star fullback reinvent his running technique.
One that would not only help him stay on their park, but make him faster on it too.
"Just seeing how I run, [the medical staff are] saying I put too much pressure on the joints, so they're trying to fix up my technique a bit.
"I'm pretty excited about that, hopefully it can help me run a bit better, more freely and not get injured," Tedesco told NRL.com this week.
The 21-year-old is almost back at full strength after recovering from a torn patella he suffered against the Raiders – the team he signed a lucrative deal with, then dramatically backflipped on – in a Round 16 tackle that ended what was a promising 2014 season.
Prior to that, he was just two games and two tries into a return from an ankle surgery that had disrupted an impressive start to the year that included four tries in the season's opening five games.
And even that was a mere flow on from the breakout campaign he put out in 2013; a telling bounce back from the left knee he blew in his first grade debut a year beforehand.
So Tedesco gets it: he understands where the origin of this injury-prone criticism is coming from. He just doesn't know how to fix it.
"My fitness and strength work, I'm sweet. I just don't really know what to put it down to, where the injuries are coming from," he said.
"I'm changing my diet, I'm working on my running technique, I'm doing everything I can stay on the field. I just don't know what to put it down to."
His eating habits are just one of the many things the former City Origin representative has scrutinised in what has been a frustrating start to his NRL career.
"It's not too drastic – just cutting out certain things and cleaning it up a bit.
"I've never really considered a diet for myself because I had to put on weight so I ate whatever," he said. "At the moment I'm at a pretty good weight, so just trying to cut out certain things that I don't need to eat and not good for my body.
"I'm trying anything. Anything that can help me, I'm willing to do."
The Camden product has targeted the post-Christmas break for a return with the rest of the team, but is understandably cautious of contact. That's why he's left the decision to a return to the Auckland Nines up to his new coach, Jason Taylor.
Tedesco starred for a youthful Tigers squad that performed well in the shortened format earlier this year. And while he would dearly love a return trip, he is once again mindful of the possible repercussions.
"The body would be right for for the Nines at the end of January, I'd be sweet.
"It's just if JT [Jason Taylor] and the coaching staff don't want to risk any chance of getting injured – I'm not too sure what they're view is on that," he said.
"Last year I loved the Nines. It was awesome. I'll just worry about getting myself right for it first. It was good fun last year but obviously there were a few serious injuries coming out of it, which was a worry. But we'll see what happens."