Blues skipper James Tedesco says he has “no regrets” about handing Latrell Mitchell a 50m shot at penalty goal that could have given NSW a shot at a once-in-a-lifetime achievement.
There were two minutes and 50 seconds left on the clock when, with NSW trailing 20-18, Tedesco had a huge call to make on the halfway line in game 3 of the State of Origin series.
A kick for touch would have given the Blues a full set of six inside the Maroons quarter, but he elected to hand Mitchell mission improbable to get the game into golden point and give NSW a chance at a historic clean sweep away from home.
“He has a massive boot on him and we all had confidence in him. I had confidence in him,” Tedesco said when asked about the reasoning for his call.
“When you see him at training, he slots them from 50 and 60 (metres) with ease. It is obviously a big moment and tough to do with a lot of pressure and expectation. No regrets though. He had a crack.
“I don’t think he struck it that well, but it still nearly got there.”
Mitchell had dreamt of the moment and said he had no doubt he could conjure up one final miracle for NSW.
“I am backing myself 100 per cent, and I always have since I was a kid. I love those moments,” Mitchell said.
“You dream as a kid about the big moments in the big arena and what bigger than to do it 50m out in a NSW game.
“I’ve kicked a few from there at training. I didn’t hit it as sweet as I thought I would have. It ended up going 50 (metres), but it fell a bit short. I am a bit disappointed, but you don’t win games off goal kicks.”
NSW coach Brad Fittler could only watch on but backed Tedesco’s decision.
“I wasn’t surprised. We’d had three sets on their line and hadn’t scored a try, so it wasn’t a dumb decision,” Fittler said.
“I was quite happy with them backing themselves. I’ve been watching him kick goals for three weeks now. Fifty (metres) is not normally his problem. I think the way we were attacking on their line didn’t give me much confidence they were going to score a try anyway.”
Mitchell and Tedesco were both brilliant for NSW in the 2-1 series win. For Mitchell, playing under former Roosters teammate Tedesco’s leadership was one of his great thrills after a two-year absence from the NSW side.
“I have loved watching the boys perform and being led by Teddy with the leadership he has shown,” Mitchell said.
“He got the captaincy for his club, and now in the biggest arena of the game he has really come alive. It is great to see.”
Tedesco could have taken out the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series, with Mitchell also a worthy candidate, but the skipper said star centre Tom Trbojevic was both a worthy recipient and, along with Nathan Cleary, the best player in the game today.
“I think Turbo deserved it. He was great in all three games,” Tedesco said.
“It is massive for him. I love Tommy. We are very close off the field, and he is just a footy player. He has had a lot of trouble with injury over the years, and I just think when he is fit he is a marvel to watch.”
Originally published as ‘No regrets’ over kick that denied Origin history