Tedesco to stay at Wests Tigers

Wests Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer says the club did not prompt James Tedesco to renege on his deal with Canberra after the fullback performed a sensational backflip to walk away from his lucrative Raiders contract on Wednesday.

Canberra offered Tedesco about $2 million over three years, while the Tigers’ offer was about the same amount over four years. Tedesco approached the Tigers on Wednesday evening and advised Mayer his preference was to stay.

‘‘I firstly need to apologise to the Canberra Raiders for my change of heart,’’ Tedesco said. ‘‘They have been great throughout the whole process.

‘‘That said, I never felt totally comfortable with my decision and after thinking it through, I realised it would be too hard to leave my best mates.

‘‘I understand that the Raiders and their fans will be disappointed and I apologise to all of them for making this decision and I only hope they will understand."

Mayer, who has retained all eight local juniors that have been off contract during his tenure as chief executive, said there was no revised offer and that Tedesco agreed to stay on the deal previously tabled.

‘‘We were never going to match what Canberra had on the table, ever,’’ Mayer said. ‘‘I have no doubt that this is nothing to do with money.

"There will be suggestions of clandestine meetings, I have no doubt, but I can guarantee you that’s not the case. We did not move on the deal, we stuck solid to our original discussions.

‘‘If this was about money alone, he wouldn’t have done this. This is more than dollars ... he’s made a decision from the heart and for that we are grateful.

"At the end of the day, at 21 years of age, he didn’t want to leave this club and his mates. The pull of that has been so strong for him.’’

Tigers skipper Robbie Farah told NRL 360 on Wednesday night he had spoken with Tedesco about the move.

‘‘I spoke to the kid,’’ Farah said. ‘‘I noticed being back at training he had been down. I had a chat to him yesterday. He confided in me. I told him to go away and think about things.

"As a mate and club captain I gave him my opinion and some advice. I told him that if he was serious about changing his mind we would support him and that's a big decision and something he had to live by. At the end of the day he has followed his heart.’’

Raiders chief executive Don Furner was furious at the development.

‘‘We are bitterly disappointed at the way it was handled ... that’s our only quote,’’ he said.

It is a devastating blow for Canberra who over the past week have missed out on Penrith winger Josh Mansour, Canterbury hooker Michael Ennis and Melbourne forward Kevin Proctor.

Canberra were desperate to recruit a quality fullback after Anthony Milford confirmed he would honour his two-year contract with the Broncos.

Tedesco said at the time of his signing with the Raiders it was tough telling Tigers teammates he had agreed to be part of Ricky Stuart’s rebuilding drive from 2015.

Canberra have turned their attention to Roosters wunderkind Tautau Moga, the prodigiously talented Roosters three-quarter who has been compared with Sonny Bill Williams and Israel Folau.

He is off contract at the end of the season and the Roosters are keen to retain his services, however, he might need to take a big pay cut to remain at Bondi Junction after suffering two season-ending knee injuries.

The 20-year-old recently returned for feeder team Newtown but the setbacks have limited him to 14 NRL appearances since storming onto the scene in 2012.

with David Polkinghorne and Chris Wilson

This story Tedesco to stay at Wests Tigers first appeared on WA Today.