If anyone needs Ricky Stuart, it’s the Wallabies.
Jack Wighton is focusing on gratitude after experiencing huge new highs and lows in the space of just 12 hours in a rollercoaster NRL career.
First the Canberra five-eighth won the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match following Sunday night’s heart-breaking NRL grand final defeat, now he’s set for a Kangaroos debut after being named in the Australian squad.
The call up caps a stunning year for Wighton who was handed a suspended jail sentence for a drunken assault less than 12 months ago, but set out to redeem himself and made his State of Origin debut for NSW.
His rise came on the back of a successful switch from fullback to five-eighth as the 26-year-old led Canberra to their first grand final since 1994.
Wighton said he was trying to overcome the pain of the grand final loss by thinking about what the club had done for him and how much it achieved this season.
“I was grateful to have that opportunity to play in the grand final and that’s what I’ve got to focus on. I love all these boys and thank you for the club for standing by me last year,” Wighton said.
“I’ve done my best to redeem myself and that was my goal for this year. It’s all choices and they made the choice by standing by me and I made the choice to repay them as best I can.
“We didn’t get the two points tonight but I’ve done everything I can to give back to the club and fans and that was my main goal this year.
“(Losing) was one of the worst feelings of my life, definitely, and at the same time one of my big list of accomplishments is getting that (Clive Churchill) medal. It was a very weird feeling.
“It’s every kid’s dream (to play for Australia) and it’s one of those things I’d love to achieve.”
Meninga said Wighton was more than deserving of his Kangaroos call up.
“Full marks to Jack, he’s had an up and down career so far, in life in particular,” Meninga said.
“Full marks to him how he’s turned his life around, how he’s played this year.
“He obviously forced his way into the NSW side in the left centre spot so I’ve been really impressed with Jack and I thought he was the outstanding player last night in the premiership grand final.”