Tedesco primed to raise the bar again
MAROONS diehards, look away now. Fresh from an all-conquering season, NSW Blues and Sydney Roosters superstar James Tedesco has vowed he can up his game.
Minus a shock result in the Golden Boot voting, Tedesco claimed just about every individual award he was up for in season 2019.
Dally M Medal, tick. Jack Gibson Medal, tick. Harry Sunderland Medal, tick. Wally Lewis Medal, tick. Brad Fittler Medal, tick. He also produced match-winning tries in the Origin decider and the grand final.
He's raised the bar so high it's hard to fathom improvement. But two months after turning 27, Tedesco is in the prime age of an already jaw-dropping career and insists he can get better.
"I don't think about the individual honours, I just keep working hard on the little things," he said.
"I know I can still get better and I will keep working on the little parts of my game."
The Roosters go into the season as a realistic chance of becoming the first team to claim a premiership hat-trick since the Eels in the early '80s.
But Tedesco hosed down any three-peat discussions.
"We don't talk about it, similar to last year when there was no talk of the double," he said.
"We just focus on the week in, week out and just go about our own processes and what we're doing."
Fox League analyst Ben Ikin is an unashamed fan of Tedesco and believes the Rooster is in the frame for Immortal status.
"Tedesco is a freak. I don't know if he can get better, but more of the same would be good," Ikin said. "He's the NSW version of Billy Slater with an extra 10kg, which is just scary.
"He's brilliant, busy - one of those guys who can create something from nothing. Billy is my favourite all-time player, but James is pressing."
The Roosters' task in 2020 has been made infinitely harder by the exit of retiring great Cooper Cronk.
But Cronk, recently made a Roosters life member, is adamant his former club can go to another level.
"Of course they can," Cronk said.
"I'm not talking 20 per cent improvement - we're talking at the top end of town, the 5 per cent. Having experienced those guys and their working capacity, Trent Robinson's great at … making sure they're improving."
Young gun Kyle Flanagan has been tasked to fill Cronk's boots and already has an admirer in the man he replaced.
"Kyle was outstanding," Cronk said of Flanagan's World Club Challenge performance.
"I thought he did all the little things that make a good halfback."
Without Cronk, Ikin says five-eighth Luke Keary will take full ownership of the side.
"He (Keary) is a star and has shown he is good enough to win games on his own," Ikin said.
"I don't think it's for Keary to get the best out of Flanagan.
"Kyle has played enough first grade now, but jeez, having Keary outside you can only be good, can't it."