James Tedesco attempts to evade Anthony Milford in Origin I last year.
James Tedesco attempts to evade Anthony Milford in Origin I last year.

Teddy reveals his motivation to rain on Billy’s parade

JAMES Tedesco suddenly has half an eye on the Australian No.1 jumper following the shock retirement of his childhood hero Billy Slater.

Slater dropped the bombshell on Tuesday he plans to retire from representative football following the State of Origin series.

It means the Kangaroos will need to find a new fullback for their sole Test at the end of this year.

James Tedesco has enjoyed his duels with Billy Slater.
James Tedesco has enjoyed his duels with Billy Slater.

Tedesco will certainly be well and truly in the running.

The Roosters and NSW custodian will go head-to-head with Slater at the MCG in Origin I next week.

All of a sudden Tedesco has a little more to play for.

"That leaves an opening I guess for guys like me to put my hand up for the Aussies," Tedesco told foxsports.com.au.

"Hopefully I do a good job here and be in the running for that.

"I wouldn't say my focus is on it. I think my focus will still be on the Roosters and playing good footy there and hopefully the opportunity will come.

"That is a goal, to play for Australia, and hopefully I'll play my best footy and get that opportunity."

Slater's sudden retirement came as a surprise to Tedesco, as it did to most of the rugby league community.

The veteran fullback will make himself available for Queensland for the three Origin games this series before hanging up the representative boots.

For Tedesco, it's a bittersweet moment.

He could well adopt the Kangaroos jersey from Slater, but at the same time he's lost a childhood hero from the game.

Slater was Tedesco's idol when he was a young footballer who dreamt of playing in the NRL.

"He's had an awesome career at rep level and at club level. He's a guy who I sort of based my own game around as a young kid growing up," Tedesco revealed.

"I think we have sort of similar attributes, speed and footwork around the ruck.

"He was the guy that I think a lot of people underestimated his defensive movements and the way he made covering tackles and the way he defended the line.

"He's the guy I based my game around. He's the guy I watched, he was naturally gifted in the way he ran the ball and he was also really gifted with his ball playing.

"I see myself a bit like that, I want to work on my ball skills and be the complete fullback that he is."