After a year to forget, Canberra received some welcome news on Friday when outstanding young centre Jack Wighton re-signed with the NRL club until the end of the 2016 season.
Wighton was earmarked as a future NSW player by Country Origin coach Trent Barrett earlier this year after a strong display on his representative debut and, at just 20, is one of the most exciting talents in the game.
Having been forced to sack Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson this year in addition to coach David Furner, the retention of the versatile Wighton is a big boost for the Green Machine.
The news comes the day after new coach Ricky Stuart’s first training session with the Raiders following his controversial exit from Parramatta in September.
“Getting back to pre-season training yesterday and seeing all the boys’ faces made my decision really easy, as I love this group of boys and can’t wait to play alongside them for the next few years,” Wighton said.
“I made a phone call to my pop and he gave me some advice in that I should remain loyal to the team that gave me a chance to start my career and I took that on board as well.”
Wighton missed the end of last season with a leg injury but said he was fully recovered and determined to help the Raiders improve on a 2013 season when they failed to reach the finals.
“Having the leg injury at the end of the year got me down a bit but I realised it’s something I can come back from,” he said.
“I can’t wait to put in a big effort this pre-season and get back on the field.
“There’s a really good feeling at the club at the moment and we’re looking at building a strong culture.”
Raiders CEO Don Furner said the club was thrilled to retain Wighton after a season when they lost two star players in Dugan and Ferguson.
“We are excited to have Jack Wighton sign for a further two years as we see him as an important part of the club moving forward,” Furner said.
“Jack is another product of our junior development program and got his opportunity to make his debut at the Raiders and it’s great he’s decided to continue what we hope will be a promising career.”