Rugby League


Canberra Raiders centre Jack Wighton sidelined with a broken thumb

Canberra's already-decimated outside back stocks have taken another hit with star centre Jack Wighton facing four to eight weeks on the sideline with a broken thumb. 

Wighton will have surgery on Tuesday after he suffered the injury in Saturday's 19-18 defeat to Wests Tigers, which also ended Canberra's remote finals hopes. 

The 21-year-old was considered an outside chance of a NSW Origin debut when the side is named for Origin III on Tuesday night after outside backs Michael Jennings and Will Hopoate both suffered injuries in game two. 

Wighton was invited into the Blues camp as a learning experience before the series-clinching win, but any thoughts coach Laurie Daley may have had of blooding the youngster have been dashed. 

Canberra's outside back depth had already been severely tested with winger Edrick Lee out for the season, and the departures of Blake Ferguson, Josh Dugan and Sandor Earl for off-field dramas last year. 

Edrick's cousin Brenko Lee, who has played his first two NRL games on the wing, is a candidate to be given an extended run in his preferred centre spot. 


Matt Allwood, also playing wing but a regular centre, is another option, but coach Ricky Stuart may opt for Lee given Allwood has signed with New Zealand Warriors for the next two seasons. 

Lee, 18, is considered a representative star of the future and scored two first half tries against the Tigers.

The out-of-favour Reece Robinson could be in line for a recall as he looks to prove to the club he deserves a contract for next year.

Sami Sauiluma (eye) and Mosese Pangai (ankle) could also be available for selection for Canberra's next game on the Gold Coast on July 13. 

Wighton has endured a spate of injuries  since his NRL debut in early 2012, including a season-ending toe injury later that season, and a broken leg late last year. 

Souths Logan product Lee has represented the Queensland under-20s the past two seasons, and is contracted with the Raiders until the end of 2016. 

He showed a glimpse of his potential with a brilliant chip and chase try against the Tigers, and is a key figure in Stuart's quest to rebuild the club. 

"Brenko's a talented player, and a player of the future for the club. We just have to build around that sort of talent,'' Stuart said after the Tigers game. 

The Raiders are now equal last with Newcastle and Cronulla, and have the bye this week.

Canberra prop Dane Tilse said their inability to put away an injury-plagued Tigers in the second half added to the frustration of a season which has yielded just four wins in 15 games.  

"The points aren't coming. The effort's there, but effort means jack shit to be honest if you're not getting the points,'' Tilse said. 

"There's good character in the team, we need to find a way to find that polish and finish things off.''