Rugby League round 1 Wests Tigers v Cronulla Sharks  at Leichhardt Oval Click for more photos

Bend it like Benji

Rugby League round 1 Wests Tigers v Cronulla Sharks at Leichhardt Oval Photo: Steve Christo

  • Rugby League round 1 Wests Tigers v Cronulla Sharks  at Leichhardt Oval
  • Tigers Chris Heighington gets tackled
  • Tigers James Tedesco
  • James Tedesco runs
  • Tigers watch Todd Carney kick for goal
  • Tigers Robbie Farah gets dumped by Bryce Gibbs
  • Tigers Gareth Ellis goes over Sharks captain Paul Gallen
  • Benji celebrates  with team mates  Tom Humble  and Tim Moltzen
  • Benji celebrates his golden point

THERE will be a mountain of good wishes for rookie Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco after his heartbreaking injury yesterday but, to reconcile himself with what has happened, he is best advised to listen to the words of his coach, Tim Sheens.

Showing his immense experience as a 61-year-old four-time premiership winner, Sheens was both concerned and realistic when asked to reflect on Tedesco having been ruled out for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

''It's disappointing for him, a 19-year-old in his very first game,'' Sheens said. ''I think he had shown why we earmarked him as our first-grade fullback. But [Tigers hooker] Robbie Farah did the same thing at the same age, and came back stronger, and [Tigers halfback] Tim Moltzen has done it and come back stronger. All you can do as a footballer is get on with it. You're going to visit the doctor at some stage of your career, or you're not really playing first grade. It comes down to what he [Tedesco] does about it, and I'm pretty sure with the support we give him he will come through it.''

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Season over … rookie James Tedesco writhes in pain. Photo: Steve Christo

It wasn't the result of a collision, or his leg getting twisted under a defender, that Tedesco was hurt. As so often seems to happen with serious knee injuries, there was no one near him when he ran the ball in the 30th minute and his knee collapsed under him. Tedesco went down clutching at it and was clearly in agony. It was immediately clear he was in big trouble.

Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall said Tedesco had been overwhelmed by emotion in the dressing room as he tried to come to terms with the extent of the damage. ''Just seeing his reaction in the sheds, he was crying in there and it brought a tear to a few of the boys' eyes as well, because we see him as such a great talent and he's fitted into the squad well and he's a really good kid,'' Marshall said.

Sheens indicated that rather than switch Moltzen to fullback and bring in another halfback, he was likely to leave Tom Humble at the back for Friday's game against Manly at Gosford. Humble came off the bench to replace Tedesco yesterday. ''It's only a five-day turnaround, so you want to change as little as possible,'' Sheens said. ''Humble did well, and I really don't want to break up the six and seven.''