James Tedesco’s dynamic running style has been blamed for a series of head knocks but the NSW captain said he’s trying to stay upright instead of digging in low to avoid future concussion issues.
A week after the retirement of Sydney Roosters teammate and close friend Boyd Cordner due to concussion, Tedesco is aware of trying to protect himself from a similar fate.
This year alone the champion fullback was on the receiving end of a nasty high shot from St George Illawarra’s Jordan Pereira on Anzac Day and another on his return against Parramatta a fortnight later.
Both happened while Tedesco was falling after running low to the ground in his unique style, which prompted calls from even Blues coach Brad Fittler for the star No.1 to correct his running technique for his own wellbeing.
On the first day of NSW training at sunny Kingscliff in preparation for game two of the State of Origin series, Tedesco said he has tried to remain more upright to protect himself but it’s difficult to correct a lifelong habit.
“It’s just how I run. It’s more just an awareness to stay more upright, which I’ve tried to do it a little bit,” he told AAP on Tuesday.
“I don’t normally change a running style, it’s more just, I can’t get so low but when I’m running the footy, but it’s hard to think about that stuff.
“I have to protect myself, though. I don’t want to be getting hit in the head and have those dramas.”
Last year the 28-year-old was knocked out twice – once while attempting to stop Eels winger Maika Sivo scoring a try and again in the State of Origin decider in November.
The hits add up to a history of head knocks that have been put in perspective by Cordner’s retirement.
Tedesco admitted to being blindsided by Cordner’s decision to retire and said it made him realise “anything can happen” in this game.
“Mine have been fine, I haven’t had any serious effects from it,” he said.
“Boydo has had effects for six months really.
“Anything can happen, it’s a contact sport and you have to be careful and you’ve got to be aware if you are having some issues.
“It’s too big of a risk to try and play it off and try and ignore them.
“You’ve got a long life to live after footy.
“Every time I saw him he looked well and he was training well and that’s obviously Boyd, he’s going to put on a brave face and that’s the sort of warrior he is and how he’s trained.
“For him to make that call it’s something serious and I’m glad he made it.
“I don’t want him to take a risk again and god knows what could happen.”
Former NSW captain Cornder will be front of Tedesco’s mind when the Blues attempt to wrap up the series at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night.