Wests Tigers star reveals reasons he joined Roosters
RUGBY LEAGUE: James Tedesco has spoken out on his Roosters signing, criticising Wests Tigers for how they handled contract negotiations and admitting Anthony Minichiello was a key figure in luring him to the Tricolours.
Tedesco claimed he had not made up his mind on leaving the Tigers until new coach Ivan Cleary imposed a deadline for his decision last month, ultimately withdrawing the club's offer after Tedesco and his management did not respond.
The superstar fullback also said he had not seen an official offer from the Tigers until one month ago, right in the middle of former coach Jason Taylor's sacking.
He has since signed a four-year deal with the Roosters for less money than offered by his junior club.
Speaking on Sydney radio station 91.3, Tedesco was asked if still could have chosen the Tigers had the deadline not been imposed and said: "Possibly".
"We needed more time and they needed the decision quickly. There was a lot of stuff happening. Ivan just came to the club, I didn't know how he was as a coach," he said.
"I think he's been great, personally, as a coach. We've had some really strong results with him. But it's just disappointing to have that put on us. That's the way they wanted to do it and we can't do much about it now.
"It's all obviously played out in the media since the start of the year and I only got an actual live contract at the end of March, the 31st of March I think. It was only about a month ago.
"Around 31st of March, that was around when JT got sacked as well. It's a tough time to commit to a club when all that's going on. I've only had a live offer a month ago and there was a lot of drama off the field at that time."
Tedesco has previously said that constant off-field turmoil at the Tigers was a big incentive to leave.
He said he had not appreciated the club making the decision deadline public, with Tedesco wanting to take his time after backflipping on a deal with Canberra during his last contract negotiations.
"Ivan told me and my manager that they wanted an answer by the Friday that week and we both sort of said to him that we weren't ready to make a decision yet," Tedesco said.
"He (Cleary) was pretty adamant that he wanted an answer by the end of the week and that's why they put the deadline out. They made it public, too, which was a bit ... we didn't really think there was a need for that.
"We told them before they put it out in the media that we weren't ready to make a decision but Ivan, he wanted to explore other options if I wasn't on board and they made that decision to put a deadline on us. We already told them that week that I wasn't ready and from the last contract negotiations, I was, not rushed but I made the decision earlier and I backflipped on it. We told them that we needed more time but they jut out the deadline on us."
Though it was continually denied through the negotiation process, the role former Roosters great Minichiello played in luring Tedesco to the club has now been revealed.
Minichiello and Tedesco became friends while playing together for the Italian national team and the champion Roosters fullback has promised to work with the youngster with the aim of turning him into the NRL's best No.1.
"The Roosters are a team I've always been a fan of. I've always been a supporter when I was younger, I was a Roosters fan," Tedesco said.
"Minichiello probably played a big part in me going there, he was a good mate of mine that I came with through the World Cup.
"He's a good mentor to me and an opportunity to work with him day to day over there at the Roosters, he was one of the best fullbacks in the game and that sort of swayed me towards that club. It's exciting to look forward to at the end of the year."
Tedesco, who headed for the exit door along with fellow stars Aaron Woods and Mitchell Moses, said he understood the anger of Tigers fans.
"It's obviously tough. The fans are always passionate about the club and I can understand that," he said.
"The fans have been great to me over the years, they've supported me through a lot of ups and downs and I can't thank them enough for that. Obviously some fans are upset and that's understandable.
"I hope they can still support me in my journey as I go to the Roosters. It's understandable to be upset and I copped that a bit with the Canberra stuff as well. I'm sort of used to that I guess. I hope they'll keep supporting me and respect my decision."