James Tedesco on how Australia’s bizarre squad number system was decided & the prestige of the number one jersey

There’s some debate in Australia over what constitutes the pinnacle of rugby league for a player.

In recent years due to the pandemic and the subsequent absence of the Australian national team, it has spurred on the argument that international rugby somehow plays second fiddle to State of Origin.

However, Australia skipper James Tedesco has spoken a lot about what it means to represent Australia and at the World Cup launch spoke about the prestige of wearing the number one jersey which has alluded him for so long such as the number of brilliant players who have worn it before resulting in Tedesco playing the last two World Cups for Italy.

On the shirt, he said: “There’s been so many great fullbacks to wear this shirt which is why it has been so hard to get it because there’s so many great fullbacks.

“Billy Slater, Greg Inglis who have gone before me. It’s just going to be a huge honour and I want to wear it for a long time and that’s what I want to do.”

Oddly, despite being Australia’s number one fullback going into the tournament, the number one shirt nearly alluded him because of the unique approach to squad numbers used by the Kangaroos with the longest serving players given the lowest numbers.

However, fortunately Tedesco was able to get the number one shirt not as the longest serving player but as skipper.

Tedesco spoke on the possibility of missing out on the shirt because of this system and how it was settled on: “It was pre-done before we got in camp. I wouldn’t have been p***ed off, it’s an honour to wear the jersey. It’s a hard system, it’s what they agreed to before we got into the camp, it’s tough on them.”

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