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Senior Raiders back Jack Wighton for State of Origin centre role

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Two senior Canberra Raiders, who have both tasted the heat of State of Origin battle, think Jack Wighton is perfectly suited to the representative clash following a boom NSW Country debut and a successful return to the centres in recent weeks.

Raiders captain Terry Campese and his vice-captain Brett White also felt departing Raiders fullback Anthony Milford would have two points to prove to his future club when the Raiders play the Brisbane Broncos at Canberra Stadium on Monday night.

"He'll definitely do the job": Jack Wighton at Raiders training on Wednesday.

"He'll definitely do the job": Jack Wighton at Raiders training on Wednesday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Campese, who played one Origin game in 2009, said Wighton was man of the match when he lined up for Country last month and said it proved the 21-year-old would be able to handle the step up to the next level.

He added that Wighton's age was irrelevant and pointed to Queensland's Origin dominance as an example of what can happen when you put faith in youth. 

NSW Blues coach Laurie Daley selected Wighton for Country with an eye to the future and Josh Morris' knee injury has opened up a centre spot for Origin II.

"The way he handled himself in Country, I might be biased, but in my view he was man of the match," Campese said of Wighton.

"He's a great defender and a great ball attacker, so if they put him in there, he'll definitely do the job.

"You look at the Queensland side over the past; they've thrown all these guys in young so there's no reason why they shouldn't put Jack in there."

It was a view shared by White.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart used Wighton at five-eighth at the start of the season, but has returned him to his more familiar position at centre.

White, who has eight caps for NSW, felt that move had sparked his young teammate into Origin form.

"To see what Jack's done for us in the centres the last few weeks - he's strong in defence, he's dangerous in attack, he'd be ideal for Origin," he said.

"I know a lot of names get thrown up during Origin and people say this person and that person, but I truly believe Jack could add to the NSW side."

White is still weighing up his own future, but said he was leaning towards playing on next season.

He hopes that would be with Canberra, but was still unsure where he'd be in 2015.

"I'm really enjoying being here at the moment and really enjoying my footy under Ricky," White said.

"Hopefully that can be here at the Raiders, but I'll wait and see where it goes."

White was confident Milford would produce a big game against the Broncos.

"He's quite professional about that," he said. "No doubt he'll have that added enthusiasm to showcase what he has to his future teammates.

"I'm expecting a big game from him."

Campese said Milford would have a point to prove on two fronts - to the Broncos, who he'll join next season, and to the Raiders fans.

"Knowing what Tone's like, he's a competitive guy and will want to get out there and obviously win against his new club," Campese said.

"You can tell that his competitiveness and attitude towards the game hasn't changed even though he has signed with the Broncos.

"It's good signs for the club that he's going to put in 100 per cent until the end of the year and that's what most people questioned outside of our playing group. We knew what he's all about."

2 comments so far

  • I suspect that the "senior raiders" are referring to the U/20s. Wighton would be about 10th in line for a State of origin spot.

    Commenter
    Gassius
    Location
    Kambah
    Date and time
    June 05, 2014, 8:46AM
    • This is a good news story approved by the Canberra Raiders Football Management.

      Commenter
      Ted
      Date and time
      June 05, 2014, 12:53PM

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