Experiencing the same rollercoaster of emotions as every Roosters fan, James Tedesco found himself anxiously texting his Blues teammates, Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo, before the final game of the regular season. Tedesco was hoping for a Cowboys loss to secure the Tricolours a finals spot. It was an unusual situation for the Roosters, who have rarely relied on other results to make the playoffs. However, after Round 27, they had successfully secured their seventh consecutive finals berth.
In July, the Roosters seemed destined to miss out on a spot in the 2023 Telstra Premiership finals. Struggling in 14th place, it appeared their season was slipping away. But a remarkable turnaround saw Trent Robinson‘s side win six of their last seven matches, propelling them into seventh position and securing a spot in the finals. Tedesco reflected on the tense moments leading up to their qualification, sharing, “I texted ‘Nath’ and ‘Yeoy’ on Saturday morning saying ‘get up tonight please boys’. I actually had a mate’s wedding on and watched the game during the entrees and meals.”
The nail-biting match took an unexpected turn as the Cowboys fought back from a 26-0 deficit to make it 26-12. Tedesco admitted feeling nervous but was relieved to witness his Blues teammates secure the victory comfortably. He also mentioned how understanding the wedding party was about his preoccupation with the game. Tedesco was not only relieved but also impressed by the Penrith Panthers‘ dominant performance, acknowledging, “I was glad they won for our sake but then I thought ‘geez they’re good’, just how dominant they are… they are going to be tough to beat again.”
Looking ahead to the finals, there is a possibility of a thrilling preliminary final showdown between the Roosters and the Panthers. Although many expect the Panthers to sail through comfortably, no one is underestimating the Roosters given their past achievements. Tedesco emphasised the team’s focus on continuous improvement, stating, “It’s sort of been do-or-die for us in the last couple of months anyway. There will be more talk and energy for these finals games, but for us, it’s about how we can get better each week and execute on the weekend.”
The absence of veteran players Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (due to suspension) and Daniel Tupou (due to a knee injury) will present a challenge for the Tricolours. This marks the first time since 2008 that either one or both of them have missed a finals series with the club. Tedesco spoke highly of the duo, acknowledging their contributions and expressing confidence in the team’s depth. He also highlighted the standout performances of players like Junior Pauga and Corey Allen in the last game, showcasing the Roosters‘ strength as a unit.
As the Roosters prepare for their finals clash against the Sharks, Tedesco and his teammates are determined to make the most of their season’s resurgence. Despite the hurdles they may face, they understand the importance of capitalising on their hard work and staying focused on executing their game plan. The stage is set for an intense and captivating finals campaign, and the Roosters aim to continue defying expectations and proving themselves as formidable contenders once again.