James Tedesco is the world's best rugby league player. Now he is finally a Wally Lewis Medal winner.
Tedesco was never going to be denied like he was last year by Billy Slater as the Blues superstar scored two tries, including the epic match-winner with less than 30 seconds on the clock, in the Origin series decider.
The NSW No.1 stood in the corner surrounded by his teammates and watched the try unfold on the giant screen inside Sydney Olympic Park before celebrating again.
Every league fan on the planet will wake up on Thursday morning happy to agree Tedesco is in a class of his own.
While Queensland makeshift No.1 Cameron Munster was outstanding for the losers, Tedesco was brilliant in all three games of this series.
He was the best player on the park in the first half at Suncorp Stadium, then featured in a blanket finish for man-of-the-match honours in Perth, only to be pipped by Jake Trbojevic.
Tedesco ran for 222 metres and made 10 tackle busts on Wednesdasy night. A man who prides himself on defence, like all good fullbacks, Tedesco also came up with some brilliant tackles as the last line of defence, including a couple of Munster and Will Chambers early in the second half.
Tedesco, 26, was the big reason the Blues were able to march up field and score their first try after the half hour.
He pounced on a Ben Hunt kick that took a huge deflection, started to skip across field and exploded around the outside of Daly Cherry-Evans before he raced down field. He fired a ball to Josh Addo-Carr before Paul Vaughan was able to eventually cross a couple of tackles later.
Tedesco then picked out Chambers and charged at him before pushing off Dane Gagai to score and give the Blues a lead in the 51st minute.
Paul Vautin said on the Nine coverage: "You can't beat speed, you can't beat power, and Tedesco has got plenty of [both]. That was just a surge over the line.''
It was just four years ago in the same game at the same venue Tedesco made a name for himself in the sky blue. You have to wonder how much more he can improve in another four years.
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga, who assured Tedesco his Australian No. 1 jersey before the series started, Laurie Daley and Darren Lockyer were entrusted with voting for the winner again. They came under fire for giving the nod to Slater last year, even though he played in two of the three games, but Wednesday night's decsion would have been the easiest ones to reach.
In the past 12 months Tedesco has now celebrated two Origin series victories and a grand final.
When Tedesco scored the match-winner, coach Brad Fittler danced across the field and leapt into the arms of his Blues players. Fittler, a favourite at the Sydney Roosters where Tedesco now plies his trade, has always had an immense respect for the fullback, and almost run out of compliments for the former West Tiger.
Tedesco has never been one for individual accolades, but will happily cherish the gong presented to him by by Wally Lewis himself.
Slater himself told the Herald on game-day Tedesco was becoming one of the greats who competed consistently on the biggest stage.
- The Age/SMH