True Blue Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach believes Jack Wighton is a certainty for a Kangaroos jumper at season’s end but he fell short of suggesting the Canberra No.6 will overtake Cameron Munster as Australia’s five-eighth.
It comes after Raiders coach Ricky Stuart admitted he wants to turn Wighton into a representative five-eighth following his stunning Man of the Match performance against the Titans in Round 1.
He crossed for two tries and produced a magical 40/20 in the first-half alone, continuing on from his blistering form in 2019 which saw him win the Clive Churchill Medal in the NRL Grand Final.
Roach named him as the front-runner to be five-eighth for the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues this year but thinks Australian coach Mal Meninga is likely to stay loyal to Munster due to his ‘pick and stick’ policy.
“I said last week I think he should be (Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues five-eighth),” Roach told Behind Blue Eyes.
“I think if you’re a young player just coming out of the Australian side with Munster, knowing Mal (Meninga), (he) is pretty good at sticking with the players that he picks.
“There would have been a reason (as to why) he picked Munster at five-eighth to play for Australia.
“He’ll find his way in there…but I think Mal is the sort of bloke that picks and sticks.”
The door has been left ajar for Wighton to claim the vacant NSW no.6 jumper with the departure of James Maloney to the Super League, although he faces tough competition with the likes of Luke Keary and Mitchell Moses also jostling for the role.
While Moses helped the Eels claim a gritty 8-2 victory over the Bulldogs in the season-opener, Keary was unable to inspire the back-to-back premiers to a Round 1 win following a loss to the Panthers.
Roach wants to see the pair step up in the important moments when their teams have their back against the wall.
“I have a big rap on those guys (Keary and Moses) but there’s no ‘Plan B’,” he said.
“It looked to me like they (Eels) got flustered with the Bulldogs defence.
“It looked to me that he isn’t in his mind enough to look back…have a look at Benji (Marshall) against the St George Illawarra side with his multitude of kicks…and reading what the players are doing.
“I don’t think Moses and (others) are up to that yet but the more the play the better they will get.”