Wighton's future not at centre, but No.6
Raiders youngster Jack Wighton scores a try during his breakout year in 2012. Photo: Melissa Adams
Laurie Daley believes Canberra Raiders whiz-kid Jack Wighton can emulate his career path and move into the halves after serving an apprenticeship in the centres.
Daley said he had no issue naming Wighton as one of his three coach's selections for the Indigenous All Stars team, despite the 19-year-old having just nine NRL games to his name.
Wighton has already proved he can handle the big stage, having been rushed into the centres for Canberra's semi-final loss to Souths last year when Jarrod Croker was ruled out with a cheekbone injury.
It was a big show of faith by Raiders coach David Furner in Wighton, who had played only 20 minutes in the under-20s side in four months after badly injuring his toe in a trampolining accident.
It helped convince Daley the Orange product would not be intimidated by playing alongside Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and company against the NRL All Stars next Saturday.
''He looks like a kid that won't be overawed by the bigger occasion. He impressed me last year in the finals and impressed me in the [Emerging] Origin camp we had with the young guys [late last year],'' Daley told The Canberra Times.
''He's a guy you throw in, thinking about the future. He's a big kid and looks like he won't be fazed playing in this type of match with these quality players.
''I think he will learn a lot being in this camp, which will be good for his development.''
Daley began his glittering career in the centres, winning premierships there with the Raiders in 1989 and 1990, before establishing himself as one of the game's greatest five-eighths.
Wighton has played all his NRL games at centre or wing, but Daley can see him eventually being thrust into the No. 6 jersey. His utility value was a major reason why Daley awarded him a place on his Indigenous All Stars bench.
''I'd probably see him in the centres to start off with and maybe move in closer a bit later, it will be interesting to see where he ends up,'' Daley said.
''He may even play in the back row for me in the All Stars game, I have a lot of options where I can give him a run.''
Daley disagreed with Furner that six Raiders playing in the match was unfair.
Canberra plays its first trial match against Melbourne Storm in Geelong the night before, and Furner had hoped to field his best side. But the selection of David Shillington in the All Stars and Reece Robinson, Jake Foster, Jack Wighton, Joel Thompson and Blake Ferguson in the Indigenous side, has disrupted those plans.
''I don't think so. If you've got five players good enough to make the team, then they should be in it,'' Daley said. ''It's a big game and particularly for the indigenous boys. Try telling them not to be a part of it, you'd be a brave man.''