Tigers star James Tedesco could be the first of a string of high-profile signing for the Raiders, after the fullback agreed to a three-year NRL deal.
Ricky Stuart’s Raiders rebuild has officially begun after Wests Tigers superstar James Tedesco agreed to join Canberra on Tuesday on a three-year NRL deal.
Canberra coach Stuart has signalled a cleanout of the struggling club and chief executive Don Furner had indicated he was preparing to open the purse strings to lure top class talent.
And Tedesco is unlikely to be the last with Canterbury captain Michael Ennis and Penrith winger Josh Mansour all being linked to the Green Machine.
Tedesco had been seen as part of a rebuild at the Tigers, who have recently signed a swag of young talent. His combination with boom rookie Luke Brooks was seen as a factor likely to keep him at Wests.
But the Raiders may have made the 21-year-old an offer he couldn’t refuse, with reports Canberra tabled Tedesco a $3.2 million deal, $300,000 a season more than the Tigers.
Tedesco, an impressive replacement for departing No.1 Anthony Milford, who is headed to Brisbane in 2015, said the toughest part of the decision was having to tell his Tigers teammates.
“It wasn’t easy to tell the guys, they are a great group of players, and close friends of mine,” Tedesco said.
“This wasn’t an easy decision for me to make and I’d like to thank Wests Tigers for their support during the process.
“I’m fully committed to Wests Tigers for the remainder of the 2014 season and can’t wait to get back onto the field and join my teammates.
“We’ve had some good wins to start the year and are confident that we’ll be in the mix come finals time.”
Tedesco is likely to return from an ankle injury suffered in round five, against Newcastle in round 13 on June 8.
The joint venture has the bye this weekend.
Furner said the acquisition of Tedesco was a coup for the Raiders.
“James is an outstanding young talent who we see as a big signing for the Raiders and we look forward to him joining the club at the beginning of the 2015 season,” Furner said.
“The Raiders have followed James’ progress from his days at St Gregory’s College Campbelltown and we know being from Camden, James will fit into the lifestyle and culture here in Canberra.”
The Tigers have arguably the most talented batch of youngsters in the game and club boss Grant Meyer pointed to the recent retention of Brooks, Aaron Woods, Tim Simona, David Nofoaluma, Curtis Sironen, and Mitchell Moses as vital for the club’s future.
Meyer said the Tigers simply couldn’t compete with the Raiders’ offer.
“The discussions with James’ management were complex,” he said.
“When another club identifies one of our players as their marquee signing we simply cannot compete with that.”