Canberra NRL star Jack Wighton has backed red-headed young gun Corey Horsburgh to fill the void left by the absence of Dally M second-rower of the year John Bateman.
Bateman (shoulder) is out for the opening eight rounds of the season and Horsburgh was his surprise replacement on the right edge in the Raiders’ trial win over Canterbury on Saturday.
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Raiders pip Dogs in preseason
NRL: The Canberra Raiders pipped Canterbury in a pre-season match in Port Macquarie, winning 12-10 on Saturday afternoon.
Horsburgh spent all of 2019 in the middle and New Zealander Joe Tapine has international experience in the second row but the latter was superb at lock against the Bulldogs.
The 22-year-old Horsburgh lined up against the Bulldogs next to off-season recruits George Williams and Curtis Scott while winger Nick Cotric has switched sides, which means Canberra has a completely new right edge from that which played in last year’s grand final.
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“You’re always going to miss a player like Bateman but Big Red is the fill-in and he did a cracker job. He’ll hold the fort until (Bateman) is back,” Wighton told AAP.
“(Horsburgh) was on fire and was good on that edge, he’s really fit and in good nick.
“And big Joey (Tapine) is looking the best condition I’ve seen him.”
NRL team the Canberra Raiders on the Sunshine Coast training for the 2020 NRL season. Corey Horsburgh. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast DailySource:News Regional Media
Wighton said it was would take time to sync with his new halves partner Williams but backed the England international halfback to find his feet in the NRL.
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“It wasn’t just him, it was both of us and I’ve been playing at this level for years,” Wighton said of the duo’s struggles against Canterbury.
“We were just over trying and playing our hand a little much at first but we found some rhythm.
“(Scott) was on the same page as us, just over trying. He’s there to impress and do his best but that’s definitely the trial game we want to have instead of round one.”
The Raiders still prevailed 12-10 after conceding two early tries but Wighton said there was plenty to improve before their NRL opener against Gold Coast on March 13.
Jack Wighton is confident the Raiders can cover for John Bateman’s absence.Source:News Regional Media
“It was a good trial in that we were put under lots of pressure and still got the win,” Wighton said.
“But we need to stick to our game plan and go back to what we’re good at, completing and doing the simple stuff.
“We’ve got to play at our speed and not theirs.”
Originally published asWighton anoints Raiders enforcer to cover for injured Bateman
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