When James Tedesco says he’s living a boyhood dream wearing the Sydney Roosters No.1 heading into the NRL grand final, he has the scribblings in a school notebook to back it up.
The star fullback may cop a few dirty glares walking the streets of Leichhardt and Campbelltown these days, but there was always a part of him who wanted to play for the Tri-Colours.
He’s been painted as a turncoat and hired gun after departing the Wests Tigers last year to join the Tri-Colours on a marquee deal.
However, he revealed that despite growing up in the heart of Tigers territory at Ryde in Sydney’s north, he was a Roosters supporter from the time he strapped on a pair of boots until his teens.
“You have that connection from when you’re a kid,” Tedesco told AAP.
“Actually I did write that in a book in year six – I found it last year. It said ‘what do you want to be in 15 years?’ And I said ‘playing first grade for the Roosters’. That was pretty cool.”
From a young age Tedesco would run around his family home in his Roosters jumper, pretending to be Brad Fittler – who is now his NSW coach.
In his teenage years Tedesco’s allegiances changed after he snared a place in the Western Suburbs Magpies’ Harold Ball under-16s before going on to make his first-grade debut against Cronulla as a 19-year-old.
“When I first started footy, about five or six, I was a Roosters fan,” Tedesco said.
“My junior club (Camden) was red white and blue and I always wore the gear and thought I was a Roosters player.
“From about six until I started at the juniors at the Tigers I was a Roosters fan. Freddy, he was the main guy I wanted to be like.”
While Tedesco’s defection to the Roosters caused some heartache, his 2018 season has been an unabashed success.
He was central to NSW’s State of Origin series triumph and was arguably ripped off when Billy Slater, who he faces for the final time on Sunday, was contentiously named man of the series.
Tedesco has produced game-turning plays in both of the Roosters finals victories – on both occasions showing soft hands and deft skill to put Daniel Tupou over at key moments.
Now, in his first finals series, he is in touching distance of a grand final win.
“It’s exciting. Me and (Rads) Victor Radley were talking last night on the couch,” Tedesco said.
“We both said we grew up watching grand finals and wanting to be there and now we’re here.”