Same job, new place: Raiders recruit James Tedesco. Photo: Getty Images
Canberra Raiders recruit James Tedesco has vowed to live up to the pressure to perform as a marquee player when he joins the club next year.
The Wests Tigers fullback also revealed his belief that Ricky Stuart can develop him into a consistent representative player was a factor in the biggest decision of his career.
Sidelined with an ankle injury, the 21-year-old is relishing the challenge of replacing Brisbane-bound Anthony Milford in Canberra's No.1 jersey. He knows a reported three-year contract worth $1.9 million brings certain expectations.
"Coming down there as a marquee player and someone Ricky expects a lot of, it's definitely going to be a lot of pressure to perform week to week,'' he said.
"Sometimes players might get a bit complacent when they make a change, but you don't have to worry about that if you're training hard and doing all the right things. I love watching Milford, he's a freak. They're big shoes to fill, but we play similar attacking footy and hopefully I can live up to his standards.''
Tedesco was convinced the Raiders were the right fit when he met with coach Stuart in Canberra on Thursday.
Robbie Farah has a high opinion of Stuart having played under him for NSW, and the Tigers skipper may have inadvertently played a role in Tedesco's move.
"Even Robbie Farah, he thinks he's a great coach and I feel I can learn a bit off him,'' Tedesco said. "I really want to play rep footy consistently and the next few years I think he can help me there.''
A City Origin representative last year, Tedesco became emotional when he told his Tigers teammates after training on Tuesday he had decided to leave at the end of the season.
"It was a bit stressful and a weight on my shoulders thinking about it all,'' he said. "Obviously fans are going to be disappointed when you leave, and I got a few angry posts or tweets. But I tried not to read them and knew my friends and family would support me, no matter what.''
Ending his partnership with star rookie Tigers halfback Luke Brooks was particularly tough. But he is confident he and Raiders youngster Mitch Cornish can be just as lethal. Cornish and Tedesco would have played for NSW under-20s together last year had it not been for Tedesco's City call-up.
"It obviously hard leaving 'Brooksy', [but] I'm sure it won't take long to strike up a good combination with Mitch,'' he said. "[Raiders centre] Jack Wighton and I played Aussie Schoolboys together, and I played with [Raiders prop] Paul Vaughan for Italy at the World Cup.
"'Vaughany' and I spoke a fair bit, we were pretty close on that tour. I know a few of the boys down there in Canberra and they really enjoy it. I live on a property at Menangle and Canberra has that country vibe.
"I'm focussed on the Tigers for now.''
Tedesco, who has played just 25 NRL games, made his NRL debut in round one, 2012, but didn't play again that season after suffering a serious knee injury. He has played only five games this year and is sidelined with an ankle complaint, but he insists his body will hold up at Canberra.
"Some people say I'm injury-prone but it's hard to help, it's a physical contact game and injuries happen,'' he said.
"The ankle got caught in an awkward situation, you can't help that.''
Tedesco is looking forward to being part of a young Raiders back line featuring Wighton, Cornish, Edrick Lee and Jarrod Croker.
Penrith's Josh Mansour may join them, and Canberra expected an answer from the winger in coming days.
"It's definitely exciting, I watched their game [the 42-12 win over North Queensland] and it showed how good they can be,'' Tedesco said.
"Especially watching Jack [Wighton], he's getting better every week and it's exciting to play with guys like that.''