Canberra’s Jack Wighton admits his move to halfback wasn’t a roaring success, but is happy to stick it out at No.7 if that’s what coach Ricky Stuart wants.
Wighton said on Tuesday he was a little shocked when asked to shift from fullback into the halves as Sam Williams’ injury replacement for last Saturday’s 21-20 loss to Cronulla.
The 22-year-old played at five-eighth at the start of last season, but fullback has proven to be his best position.
“(My role) was still pretty similar to the way I play fullback, except he (Stuart) needed me to do a little bit more organisation,” he said.
“But I don’t know if I did that.
“I just do my best and do whatever Sticky wants me to do for the team.”
The surprise switch appeared to have an impact on star playmaker Blake Austin, who wasn’t able to pursue his usual running game.
The Raiders have lost six of the seven matches that the former Wests Tigers utility has played without Williams by his side.
“He had to change his game also because Sammy Williams has been the little director of our team for the last few games and you could really tell we missed him out there,” Wighton said.
“But we didn’t do too bad – we lost by one point in the end – and I guess there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Sisa Waqa took over Wighton’s spot at No.1, with mid-season recruit Joseph Leilua making his first start in the centres at GIO Stadium.
But forward Jarrad Kennedy doesn’t feel the backline reshuffle was to blame for their defeat, which has put a dent in their hopes for a top-eight finish.
“The blokes that got reshuffled have played there before,” said Kennedy.
“We trained like that all week.
“I don’t think that was the problem, it was just turning up on the day, we needed to have a better attitude and put together another 80 minute performance.”
The Raiders face Penrith on Sunday at Pepper Stadium as the battle for a finals berth heats up.
Both sides sit equal on 18 points, but Canberra are two spots higher at 10th on the ladder with a better points differential.
The Panthers were smashed 52-10 by Melbourne last Friday and Wighton is predicting a fiery contest this weekend.
“The Panthers down there at their home ground is very tough,” he said.
“We’re both coming of losses so it’s going to be a great game I think.”