Kalyn Ponga of the Maroons is brought down by James Tedesco and Josh Addo-Carr.
Kalyn Ponga of the Maroons is brought down by James Tedesco and Josh Addo-Carr.

Tedesco explains coaching behind key tackle on Ponga

JAMES Tedesco has revealed exactly what went through his mind before making a clutch try-saving tackle on Queensland whiz-kid Kalyn Ponga which helped win NSW the State of Origin series.

It was in the 68th minute when Ponga brushed off Boyd Cordner and broke through the Blues defensive line, and needed to close about 30 metres to make it to the tryline.

If he scored it would have levelled the scoreboard and Queensland would have had a kick to go in front.

It was fullback Tedesco who came across the field and dived to grab Ponga around the ankle and bring him down just a few metres short of the stripe.

Tedesco explained the coaching that prepared him for such a moment, and his thought process in those terrifying few seconds.

He knew Ponga would try to step back inside him if he allowed him room to do so, and if he did the 20-year-old freak would have almost certainly scored.

That's why Tedesco made sure to keep Ponga on his outside, then backed his own pace to run him down and make the tackle.

Kalyn Ponga gets on the outside of Boyd Cordner. Picture: Mark Nolan/Getty Images
Kalyn Ponga gets on the outside of Boyd Cordner. Picture: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

"I was waiting for a bit of footwork but he decided to take me on," Tedesco said.

"That's just standard fullback play, you show them a bit of space and then run them down. That's just a standard fullback play.

"Every time he touches the ball there's danger, we knew our defence had to work hard on him because he just creates space and his footwork is outstanding.

"We had to do a good job on him but he played pretty well."

Josh Addo-Carr helped to bring Ponga down, coming from behind to finish off the tackle. But it was undoubtedly Tedesco's effort that stopped the try.

Brad Fittler celebrates with Boyd Cordner and Josh Ado-Carr. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Brad Fittler celebrates with Boyd Cordner and Josh Ado-Carr. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Of all the moments from the epic NSW win, coach Brad Fittler singled out Tedesco's late try-saver as one of the best and most important.

Without being prompted, Fittler praised his fullback's efforts to make the tackle when he spoke post-game.

"Teddy's tackle on Kalyn Ponga - Kalyn Ponga was unbelievable all game - for Teddy to pull that off, he was on a high, Kalyn, and that was a brilliant tackle," Fittler said.

"Trying to tackle Kalyn Ponga on your own in the backfield is about as good as you get I think."

NSW had identified debutant Ponga as one of the biggest attacking threats, and did plenty of work on him during the week leading up to the game.

It was a surprise to some punters to see him enter play after about 20 minutes, and play the rest of the game in the middle of the park.

But Tedesco said the Blues had expected the tactic from Queensland.

"We sort of knew he would come on pretty early, they needed him to create a bit of spark and he did that," Tedesco said.

"But he created pretty well, we tried to get at him and he held himself well.

"He's a quality player."


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