Player Review 2012 - Jack Wighton
Monday 12 November 2012 1:49 PM
Jack Wighton may have only played in nine games this year but he left a lasting impression on all that witnessed him play in his debut year in the NRL.
Wighton enjoyed a glittering junior representative career and made a seamless transition to the NRL by immediately announced himself as a potential superstar with a terrific debut at Skilled Park.
After starring in the Toyota Cup as either a centre or five-eighth, Coach David Furner displayed plenty of faith in Wighton’s renowned natural ability by selecting the youngster on the wing following an injury to Reece Robinson for the round two clash against the Gold Coast Titans.
Media outlets around the country hailed Wighton as ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ after his phenomenal leap from the wing to bat back a cross field kick into the welcoming arms of Jarrod Croker, who was then able to score arguably the easiest try of his career.
Wighton wasn’t just a one-trick pony in his debut though as Scott Prince’s rib cage can firmly attest to. While Wighton is one of the most gifted attacking players in the club’s ranks, his defensive technique is similarly outstanding.
When you combine that flawless defensive technique with Wighton’s stellar timing and game awareness it makes for a vital cog in the Raiders defensive armour.
However it is the Orange CYMS junior’s breathtaking attacking ability that has seen him lauded as one of the finest rugby league prospects in the country.
Wighton registered 2 tries, 1 try assist, 6 line breaks, 24 tackle breaks and 2 offloads in his nine games for the year as well as averaging an impressive 87 metres in attack and 9.1 rib rattling tackles in defence.
Such was the smoothness of the former Australian Schoolboy representative’s graduation to the top grade, Furner moved Wighton from the wing to centre to better utilize his game breaking ability.
That very game breaking ability was thoroughly emphasized in the Raiders’ round 10 win over the Parramatta Eels. After Chris Sandow scored in the 77th minute to put a scare through the Raiders camp, Wighton sealed the match with a brilliant individual try in the 79th minute to put the game beyond doubt.
Receiving the ball from a Canberra scrum win, Wighton accelerated and burst through several would be defenders to then proceeded to race 50 metres down field to score and secure the two competition points for the Green Machine.
Alas, the 19 year olds dream debut year came to an abrupt halt once an accident on a trampoline when he was at home playing with his little cousins sidelined him for the rest of the season. Wighton injured his toe so badly in the incident that he required surgery and was forced to miss a large proportion of the season as result.
Wighton did however make his way back onto the field for the semifinals. The exciting talent returned to the under 20s line up for their opening semifinal clash against reigning premiers the New Zealand Warriors. Wighton entered the fray from the interchange bench and played a leading role in the 39-38 win.
The following week, Wighton was then recalled to Canberra’s NRL line up after the subsequent injury sustained to Jarrod Croker. Furner’s gamble on selecting Wighton was a further portrayal of his faith in the youngster’s talent and ability to handle the big match atmosphere.
Taking his place in the centres against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium, Wighton was solid in attack and defence throughout the high pressure encounter. Although Souths went onto win the game and progress through to the next week, Wighton’s season was not over yet.
Wighton joined fellow Raiders stars Edrick Lee and Mitch Cornish in being selected for the Junior Kangaroos.
Playing five-eighth, Wighton starred for the Kangaroos in their 48-16 win over the Junior Kiwis, scoring two tries and instigating countless other attacking raids.
With Wighton set to undergo another full off-season with the first grade squad in preparation for 2013, many are predicting big things in the future from this talented youngster.
Average Minutes: 80
Line Breaks: 6
Try Assists: 1
Tackle Breaks: 24
Average Metres: 87
Average Tackles: 9.1
Kick Metres: 2 kicks for 36 metres