Key Match-Up: Round 19 vs. Sea Eagles
Two fullbacks of the future will go head-to-head this Sunday as Wests Tigers’ James Tedesco and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles' Tom Trbojevic face off at Lottoland.
Having spent the past fortnight in Origin camp together for New South Wales, the pair will become opponents on Sunday afternoon when the two sides do battle — a rare Sunday afternoon game at the iconic Brookvale ground for the first time in eight years.
Always a threat with the ball in hand, Tedesco’s numbers might be down in 2017 from what they were last season, but there’s no denying his talent and ability to break a defence wide open. While he might only have two tries to his name this year, the Camden Rams junior has recorded five try assists and eight linebreak assists, while busting an average of 7.9 tackles per game — more than any player in the competition.
But while Tedesco might be the incumbent Blues fullback, the man many view as his likely threat to the number one jersey has been in stellar form this year — returning from an ankle injury that likely robbed him of an Origin debut on the wing in Game I.
Trbojevic’s tall running style and ball playing skills have been a focal part of the Sea Eagles’ attacking potency this season — chalking up eight tries and nine try assists.
Off the back of the Silvertails’ powerful forward pack, look for Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans to combine in the middle of the field and keep Wests Tigers on their toes.
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ALL THE NUMBERS
Tedesco and Trbojevic have only lined up against each other on two occasions, with the pair walking away with one win each. However, only one of those times did they both line up at fullback — a Round 2 clash in 2016 that saw Wests Tigers walk away with a 36-22 victory and Tedesco with his first and only career hat-trick. In comparison, Trbojevic has never scored against Wests Tigers — one of just four teams in the NRL.
ORIGIN COMPANIONS COLLIDE
After a fortnight together in Origin camp together, the pair will now face off this Sunday in one of many Origin clashes taking place. Valentine Holmes (QLD) and Jarryd Hayne (NSW), Jarrod Wallace (QLD) and Andrew Fifita (NSW) will all square off in Saturday’s clash between the Titans and Sharks, while Aaron Woods (NSW) and Jake Trbojevic (NSW) will also do battle in Sunday’s clash between Wests Tigers and the Sea Eagles.
NEW LOOK SPINE FOR WESTS TIGERS
All capable of individual brilliance on their own, Wests Tigers fans will have the chance this Sunday to see Tedesco, Tuimoala Lolohea and Luke Brooks combine together for the first time. Having spent the past few weeks together, Lolohea and Brooks combined for their finest performance together last fortnight against the Newcastle Knights and having Tedesco out the back this week will only help that even more. Throw young gun hooker Jacob Liddle in to the mix too after a string of good games since being promoted to the starting side, and it’s an intriguing spine for Wests Tigers fans to watch for the rest of the year — starting with Sunday’s clash against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Lottoland.