Rugby League


Canberra's Raiders star Jack Wighton says injury run 'doing his head in'

Luckless Canberra Raiders centre Jack Wighton says his horror injury run is ''doing his head in'' and revealed he battled mentally with his return from a broken leg at the start of the season. 

Wighton bravely played on for 30 minutes with a broken thumb in last week's loss to Wests Tigers, but will miss the next four to eight weeks after undergoing surgery on Tuesday. 

The Raiders have sorely missed young X-factors Wighton and Edrick Lee in recent years, with both suffering a host of long-term injuries. 

Wighton has played 42 of a possible 64 games for Canberra since his debut in round 2, 2012. Lee, out for the year with a toe problem, has fared even worse, racking up just 19 games since his debut in round 12, 2012. 

Despite Canberra falling out of finals contention, Wighton is desperate to return within a month against Parramatta at Darwin in round 22. 

The 21-year-old said he and Lee had helped boost each other's spirits, but said the frustration was building. 


The sackings of Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson meant the Raiders could ill-afford to lose the pair's strike power out wide. 

A freak toe injury suffered on a trampoline limited Wighton to nine games in 2012, and he broke his leg against Canterbury in round 23 last year. 

Having started this year at five-eighth, Wighton has been outstanding since his shift back to centre and was rewarded by being called up to train with the NSW squad before Origin II. 

"I can't get an extended run, it's doing my head in,'' Wighton said. 

"Just knowing it's three years in a row I've had a shit injury, I just want to play a full season.''

"The leg was mentally the hardest one to get over. When I came back I was so nervous, even now I still get a bit iffy on it.

"The toe is probably the most frustrating because it was self-inflicted.''

Wighton was a helpless spectator in the second half of Canberra's 19-18 loss at Campbelltown, when the Raiders squandered countless chances to keep their remote finals hopes alive. 

"I played with it [thumb] for about 30 minutes. There was a fair bit of pain. Whenever I did something there would be a shooting pain in my arm,'' Wighton said. 

"I didn't think it was broken at the time. I was trying to come back on because it was one of those games you want to be involved in. 

"It was very fiery and competitive, it was a great game of footy. 

"Surgery went good, hopefully I can be back for the Darwin trip.''

Wighton said he and Lee had helped each other get through the anxiety of their injury setbacks. 

Both are considered representative players of the future, Lee being included in Queensland's Emerging Origin squad the past two seasons.

Lee's younger cousin, Brenko, is a candidate to replace Wighton at centre on the Gold Coast next week after playing his first two NRL games on the wing.  

"Edrick's been a massive loss for us. He's one of the best finishers in the game at times, with his long arms and legs,'' Wighton said. 

"We always send each other texts or have a talk, because we know how it feels. We just can't catch a break but we're only young. 

"I'm not worried about how good or bad we're going, I just want to be there to help the team. 

"It sucks seeing them running onto the park and not being able to help.''


NRL round 18: Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders at Cbus Super Stadium, 2pm 

TV: Live on Fox Sports 1