Thumping South Sydney was a huge confidence boost for new Canberra five-eighth Jack Wighton, but he’s the first to admit there’s a lot of work ahead.
A man of few words in front of reporters, perhaps due to halves partner Terry Campese distracting him from behind the cameras, you’ll often see Wighton looking over his shoulder at the media manager during press conferences to double check he hasn’t just put his foot in it.
However, the 21-year-old is a lot more sure footed on the field.
Wighton, an outside-back-turned-playmaker, has been thrust into the Raiders’ halves alongside Campese by new coach Ricky Stuart.
The move has somewhat forced the Raiders to take a “back to basics” approach in 2014, with the intention to ramp up their plays as the season, and Wighton, progresses.
Stuart advised both halves before the match against the Rabbitohs on Sunday that they needed to play straighter, and safer, and the tactic paid dividends, resulting in a convincing 30-18 win.
A natural ball-runner, Wighton admits he’s been working on not overplaying his hand.
“For me, keeping it simple is better at the moment, but as time goes on we’ll start building on it,” Wighton said.
“It (beating Souths) was a real confidence booster but we just need to set our minds to next week.”
Campese says while Wighton was noticeably nervous in his first few starts at No.6, his confidence has grown ever since.
“His decision making and patience is a lot better,” Campese said.
“And some of his defence on the weekend was outstanding.
“Being a half you always get traffic directed at you and some of the try saving tackles he made on our line boosted the team.”
The next test will be against Penrith this Saturday, who have recruited former NSW Origin playmakers Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace in 2014, both of whom have more than 160 NRL caps each.
But the Raiders have a swag of playmaking options of their own, with Anthony Milford adding another attacking element from fullback, as well as Glen Buttriss and Josh McCrone chiming in from hooker.
“We’ve got a good combination at the moment,” Campese said.
“We’re still working out each other’s game. I think with Milford at the back we’ve just got to mix it up a bit to keep the opposition guessing.”