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Canberra Raiders’ Jack Wighton the ‘form fullback of the competition by far’: Blake Austin

Jack Wighton’s defensive effort in the game against the Sharks helped the Raiders lock up the match. Photo: Rohan ThomsonNot only has Jack Wighton beaten his early season form slump, he’s now “the form fullback of the competition by far”.
Nanjing Night Net

That’s the bold claim made by Canberra Raiders star Blake Austin after his teammate continued his purple patch in Saturday’s 30-14 win at Shark Park.

Wighton scored a try but it was his defensive effort in the second half that helped the Raiders lock up the match.

The 23-year-old cut down opposite number Ben Barba in full flight one-on-one, then bundled Sharks winger Sosaia Feki into touch in a try saver later in the same set.

In his second full year in the No.1 jersey, Wighton’s ability to make try-saving tackles one-on-one has been a hallmark of his game.

But Austin says his all-round game has been peerless recently in comparison even against the game’s top-line fullbacks.

Known more as a ball-runner than a ball-playing fullback, Wighton has as many try assists (11) this year as Australia No.1 Darius Boyd and NSW Origin star James Tedesco, although both have missed games through injury and representative duty.

Wighton is well behind Boyd, Tedesco and Barba in line breaks and tries scored, but has made more runs and all-run metres.

Austin said Wighton is considered a barometer for the team and it’s no fluke the six-game winning streak coincides with his form surge.

“Not just [best] defensive fullback, I think over the last four to six weeks Jack’s been the best fullback in the comp by far,” Austin said.

“It’s full credit to Jack because everyone knows the bumpy start Jack had to the season.

“This year is probably the hardest I’ve seen him work on his craft and I truly believe the last few weeks he’s been the best fullback in the game.

“When Jack Wighton’s playing well the boys get a real kick out of that, like a lot of us he rides on confidence.”

Some were questioning Wighton’s place in the team after he made a number of errors in the early rounds, the most costly an intercept pass that led to St George-Illawarra’s match-winning try in round 10.

But Wighton has been a major reason the Raiders have managed to win their past six games.

“Jacko does that [try-savers] two or three times a week, he does it all the time,” Canberra skipper Jarrod Croker said.

“He’s been great for us, his defence is second to none I think in that [fullback] position.

“He’s worked really hard and he’s a big indicator in getting our [defensive] numbers right.

“It’s a win but we still haven’t achieved a lot. We’ve got Melbourne next week and it’s going to be just as tough.”

Canberra’s improved defence will have to be on alert again in Monday night’s home blockbuster with ladder leaders Melbourne.

Melbourne were lucky to escape with a golden point win over struggling Souths on Saturday night, which should sharpen their focus.

“Melbourne are the best team in the comp,” Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said.

“I reckon they’re the benchmark.”

HOW WIGHTON COMPARES

Statistics of competition’s form fullbacks last six games

Jack Wighton

Tries: 5

All-Runs: 89

All-Run Metres: 794

Line breaks: 4

Line break assists: 3

Tackle breaks: 22

Tackles: 27 (missed five)

Errors: 6

Darius Boyd

Tries: 2

All-Runs: 63

All-Run Metres: 533

Line breaks: 1

Line break assists: 5

Tackle breaks: 14

Tackles: 36 (missed nine)

Errors: 1

James Tedesco (six games before Sunday’s Tigers-Cowboys clash)

Tries: 3

All-Runs: 83

All-Run Metres: 867

Line breaks: 6

Line break assists: 1

Tackle breaks: 34

Tackles: 20 (missed seven)

Errors: 7

Ben Barba

Tries: 4

All-Runs: 62

All-Run Metres: 641

Line breaks: 6

Line break assists: 8

Tackle breaks: 26

Tackles: 30 (missed seven)

Errors: 6

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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