Wighton in Origin's box seat, but struggling Raiders remain the focus

CANBERRA FOCUS: Jack Wighton trains with NSW players Paul Gallen and Will Hopoate. Photo: GETTY IMAGES
CANBERRA FOCUS: Jack Wighton trains with NSW players Paul Gallen and Will Hopoate. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

As 18th man, Canberra Raiders centre Jack Wighton had the best seats in the house last week as NSW hatched the plan  that ended eight years of State of Origin misery. 

But the Orange junior insisted pulling Canberra out of its current blues, not a maiden Blues jersey, is his only focus despite injuries opening the door for a possible debut in Origin III. 

Blues coach Laurie Daley has already stated he believes Wighton is ready for the step up. Incumbent centre Michael Jennings has been ruled out with a torn back muscle and Origin I hero Josh Morris is no certainty to return from a knee injury. 

With the series already wrapped up it looms as an ideal chance for Daley to inject fresh blood. 

The 21-year-old spent last week clay pigeon shooting with some of his idols, but being welcomed into the fold officially is the last thing on his mind.

“I’m not thinking about it one bit, I'm just thinking about playing for the club,” he said.

“I feel like if I’m trying my very best here [Canberra] and doing everything I can my time will come, it’ll work itself out.

“I still can’t wipe the smile off my face even though I only trained with them, I got nervous just knowing I was going to be around them.

“One of my favourite things was seeing how they operate, and what they're like on the field.

“My main focus is the club at the moment. We're trying to turn it around and I think we can do it if we stick together.”

Wighton admitted he wasn't fully happy with his performance in Canberra's 22-14 home loss to Canterbury last week, when his new-look edge partnership with rookie winger Brenko Lee was exposed by the Bulldogs on a couple of occasions.

“I’m definitely trying to get more involved and I have little lapses here and there I need to get out of my game,”' he said. 

“I didn't even know Laurie was there [watching from the stands] until after the game.

“f that [Origin] comes along I’ll be more than over the moon, but I'm doing my best here first.”

Wighton admitted the struggling Raiders [4-10] must find a way to end their slump against Wests Tigers at Campbelltown today, or their season would be over. 

“We're going into this game where it has to start from here, what we want to do with our season,”' he said.

“Unfortunately we haven’t had the start we wanted.”