CANBERRA Raiders Toyota Cup coach Andrew Dunemann expects Orange’s Jack Wighton would have been one of the first players selected in the Junior Kangaroos side announced yesterday.
The Australian under 20s team was named yesterday to take on their New Zealand counterparts later this month.
Wighton, 19, was named as the starting five-eighth for the Junior Kangaroos.
“He would have been one of the first ones picked. He’s a player of the future,” Dunemann said of Wighton.
“He’s got no fear. He runs the ball hard and his defence is outstanding. He’s obviously quick and damaging.”
Wighton is no stranger to pulling on the green and gold jumper.
In 2010 he was part of the Australian Schoolboys side.
Last year he played with the NSW Under 18s in their State of Origin series against Queensland.
This year he has shared his time between the Raiders’ NRL and Toyota Cup sides.
He played Toyota Cup in the opening round of the season but was called up to the NRL side in round two.
Wighton played eight NRL games before needing surgery to repair ligament damage in his big toe suffered in a trampoline accident.
The Orange CYMS and Bloomfield junior was sidelined for four months before making his return in the Toyota Cup side’s 39-38 win over the Warriors in early September.
Wighton then started in the Raider’s NRL semi-final against South Sydney but the Bunnies came out on top 38-16.
All up Wighton played nine NRL games for the Raiders this year and scored two tries, made 69 tackles and 80 hit ups.
Despite his obvious talent, Dunemann said there is one area in particular Wighton can improve.
“He’s got to believe in himself a bit more. He’s a pretty humble kid,” Dunemann explained.
Joining Wighton in the Junior Kangaroos is Raiders Toyota Cup teammate Edrick Lee.
The Junior Kangaroos will take on the Junior Kiwis in a Test match at Townsville’s Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday, October 13.