Old acquaintances will be renewed this weekend as Wigan Warriors take on Sydney Roosters in a ferocious World Club Challenge.
Aussie star James Tedesco used to work with the Super League champion’s head coach Adrian Lam when he was with the national team as an assistant.
Now the two will face off at the DW Stadium, as the Roosters full-back looks to get one over his old mentor, who has more than 100 appearances for both clubs.
“I think he wants to make a statement for himself as a coach,” Tedesco, 26, said.
“He had an assistant role with the Aussie team I was in and done a bit of coaching here and there.
“This is a good opportunity for him to take on a coaching role and prove himself as a top coach. He will be out there on Sunday trying to outdo us.
“We know Adrian is bringing a bit of NRL flair to the side. I think they are going to get better and better.”
Tedesco knows Wigan will try to overwhelm Sydney up front.
He believes it will be particularly important to shut down Warriors captain and 17-year veteran Sean O’Loughlin at close quarters.
They hope to have a powerful start to the match and get on top of it in the opening exchanges.
“O’Loughlin is there go-to man and will control most of the attack,” Tedesco said.
“We’ve focused on him a bit. Obviously, a lot of their attacking breaks come from him.
“In the forward packs, getting on top of them early that will be our main focus.
“It’s going to be very Wigan-favoured in the crowd but it’s going to be a god atmosphere so we are going to get out there and enjoy it.”
Tedesco’s teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves knows what it takes to get the best of Wigan in the competition.
He was part of the squad which dispatched them 36-14 in the 2014 World Club Challenge, where the prop scored one of the tries as they took victory on home turf.
But rather then looking back, Waerea-Hargreaves, 30, is focusing on playing in his first competitive game since the Roosters won the NRL Grand Final against Melbourne Storm in September.
The Roosters are still in pre-season ahead of the start of the new NRL season, so head into the game without the benefit of competitive matches – unlike Wigan who are two games into their new Super League campaign.
The Kiwi international hopes his side will be able to leave their stamp on the game.
With fellow NRL stars such as Cooper Cronk and Boyd Cordner among their ranks it should be a possibility.
“We have not played a game yet and we are sick of tackling our own teammates,” he said. “We’re excited to get out there and play some footie. Wigan have a couple under their belt already, they’ve got those combinations already and the conditions are playing into their hands.
“But we will look to play our Roosters style. Depending on the conditions, whether there is rain and it tightens everything up, but if there is no rain then it’s going to be a free-flowing game of footie.”
Wigan Warriors take on the Sydney Roosters in World Club Challenge as the world’s two best rugby league sides go head-to-head at the DW Stadium on Sunday February 17th, kick-off 7pm. Secure your seat today by calling the DW Stadium ticket office on 01942 311111 or visiting https://wiganwarriors.com/tickets.
By Connor McLoughlin