Since rugby league’s inception, halves have been the centre-piece of any team.
But as the modern game evolves, fullbacks have earned more recognition as the third option in attack becomes ever so important. There is no better fullbacks in the game then provide their team with a more potent attack then Billy Slater and James Tedesco who will face off in the 2018 NRL Grand Final.
We look at the match-up between the two warriors and predict who will come out on top once the final whistle is blown come Sunday evening.
JAMES TEDESCO (Sydney Roosters) VS BILLY SLATER (Melbourne Storm)
2018 Home & Away Stats – Games
Games: 24 Games: 19
|Try Assists||14||Missed Tackles||24||Try Assists||13||Missed Tackles||25|
|Tackle Breaks||157||Tackle Efficiency||74.6%||Tackle Breaks||75||Tackle Efficiency||73.7%|
|Line Breaks||15||Line Breaks||10|
|Avg Run Metres||186.5||Avg Run Metres||120.7|
It’s fair to say that James Tedesco was the shining light in an otherwise dreary couple of seasons for the Wests Tigers. At his new club, Sydney Roosters, it is fair to say his start to the season was below his usual high and exciting standards. Some fans were beginning to question if the high price they paided to secure him was worth the price.
But Teddy showed during the State of Origin what he could do, being at his devastating best, which sparked his form for club footy for the Roosters and the rest is history now.
Teddy lead the league in tackle breaks with 157 and second in the league for total run metres. but it was his consistency under the high ball and strong kick returns that earned him plenty of plaudits. Teddy is an electric ball-runner and provides a much-needed spark to any team he plays for.
What can you say about ‘Billy the Kid’ that has not already been said?
There was a school of thought that Billy Slater might have been a little passed it but he has come over his injury concerns and is amongst the very best fullbacks in the game once again.
He set the league and the State of Origin arena alight once again as a huge part of the dominant Storm and Queensland sides that came alive in game II & III and after a lot of debate, earned him man of the series in a losing series by Queensland, which speaks volumes about Slater’s impact.
Slater managed seven tries during his 19 appearances this season, a decent return in a star-studded side which handed most of the four-pointers to wingers Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu. His efforts in corralling the defence and leading from the back have made a huge difference to how the Storm have fared.
Slater has been far and away the best fullback in the NRL during this era and in his final game for the Storm and in his career, expect something special of Billy the Kid.
The pair have squared off on eight occasions across club and representative football with Slater holding an upper hand with six wins. The question will come Sunday, can Billy Slater make it seven and finish with a fairy-tale ending, we believe so.