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Wighton overcomes nerves to make seamless shift to halves

It had been 273 days since Jack Wighton had played in the Telstra Premiership and Canberra's new five-eighth admitted to extra nerves entering last week's first-round clash with the Titans.

Wighton was forced to watch from the sidelines for the final 10 weeks of the 2018 season, after pleading guilty in court to a pre-season assault.

A humbling off-season and switch to a new role has allowed the 26-year-old to atone for his mistakes of the past in the best way possible - on the field.

Wighton was outstanding in his halves debut, racking up 128 metres from 12 runs and kicking for 300m.

However, Wighton said he knows he still has plenty of work to do.

"I was a little bit nervous to get that one out of the way as it has been a little while, so it was good to get back out there," Wighton said.

Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton.
Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

"I think we communicated well, Aidan (Sezer) ran the show and I passed the message, so I think we worked well.

"It was a good start to the year and it was a good performance first up."

Sezer said the maturity Wighton has shown off the field during the off-season manifested itself in tough conditions against the Gold Coast in round one.

In monsoon-like conditions the Raiders halves capitalised to the injuries to Titans playmakers Tyrone Roberts and Ash Taylor.

"We've had a few poor starts in previous years and that hasn't helped us in the back end," Sezer said.

"The most pleasing thing for us is getting the two points and Jacko was one of our best."

Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer.
Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

Sezer believes Wighton's time at fullback will help fast-track his development at five-eighth.

However, coach Ricky Stuart said after the team's round one victory, he feels Wighton will be hitting his strides two months into the new season.  

"Jacko is an influential part of our team. He's a class player," Sezer said.

"He played five-eighth earlier in his career, but he might have been a bit too young for it. Now he's coming into his own.

"He had a few years at fullback which I think helped his intelligence and he didn't miss a beat there tonight.

"He was helping me out as a halfback and I think out games can complement each other.

"Being the halfback and wearing the seven you tend to always think you need to take on more responsibility but I think me, Jacko, Hodgo and Charnze have found a pretty good balance in sharing that workload.

"Jacko might be a couple of years younger than me but he's very mature for his age and got a lot of life experience to draw from. He's got a mature head on his shoulders."


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