Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has lashed out at the fans who booed Jack Wighton for winning the Clive Churchill Medal, describing them as “wombats.”
Wighton was judged the best player on the ground in the NRL Grand Final which saw the Sydney Roosters score a late try to claim a 14-8 win over a spirited Raiders team.
The Raiders five-eighth, who made his debut for the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues this season, never stopped trying and got his side back into the match with a determined try.
He became the first player since Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans in 2013 - and only the fifth player in history - to win the award from a losing team.
The Clive Churchill Medal is determined by Australian coach Mal Meninga, former NSW coach Laurie Daley and former Australian and Queensland captain Darren Lockyer.
“The best player on the field got the award tonight,” Stuart said.
“Whether those people out there who booed him agreed or not, Jack didn’t pick it.
“Three legends of our game picked the award, and I think they know a little bit more than the wombats sitting behind the goalposts.”
Wighton was humbled by the award and was quick to congratulate his opponents and heap praise on his Raiders teammates.
“I’d just like to thank all our Raiders fans for turning up tonight, we’ll love youse always,” Wighton said.
“Very, very proud of our boys. This is the numbest feeling I’ve ever felt.
“Congratulations to the Sydney Roosters, you got us tonight, hopefully we’ll see you in another dance like this.”