He deserves it.
Orange CYMS and Bloomfield product Jack Wighton concedes Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai out-pointed him convincingly in the race for the Blues No.6 jumper.
Wighton, the 2019 Clive Churchill Medal winner and 2020 Dally M Medalist, has been a mainstay of Blues teams since coming off the interchange to replace Cody Walker at five-eighth early in the second half of the 2019 series opener.
The 28-year-old has been selected in the centres for every Origin since but with Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell both fit and in form, Wighton had been expected to play in the No.6 jersey.
However, NSW coach Brad Fittler opted for Luai alongside his Panthers halves partner Nathan Cleary for the 2021 series opener in Townsville on Wednesday night.
And Wighton, at 190cm and 96kg, has been told he'll be used as a roving back-rower from the interchange unless the Blues lose a back to injury.
It is no secret that Romie and Clears have been one of the best halves combinations in the whole comp.Jack Wighton
"I had a little chat to Freddy about it, and he said I need to be prepared for anything," Wighton told NRL.com in the lead-up to game one.
"I have just got to get my head around everything and go out and have fun so I'm keeping an open mind about what my role might be.
"It is no secret that Romie and Clears have been one of the best halves combinations in the whole comp. Everyone can see that, and I am stoked for Romie to make his debut also.
"Every time I get picked for this team I truly count it as a blessing so I am just happy to be able to do my part and help out wherever I can."
Despite Canberra's battles in 2021, Fittler was determined to stick by Wighton in some capacity.
He has extensive NRL experience at fullback, centre and five-eighth for the Raiders but has never played in the back row.
"It always goes through your head that you might miss out, and with the way other players are playing at the moment you can't be angry if you do," Wighton said.
"These opportunities don't come around all the time and as you get older you work that out more, so I'm definitely not thinking if, but or could about playing five-eighth or anything like that."
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