Jack Wighton is open to a new position for the Raiders. Picture: Kym Smith
Jack Wighton is open to a new position for the Raiders. Picture: Kym Smith

Early Mail: Wighton switch on hold, Eels to roll out rookie

CANBERRA fans will have to wait two more weeks before they get a glimpse of new halves combination Jack Wighton and Aidan Sezer.

Wighton confirmed on Monday he is open to making a permanent switch from fullback into the five-eighth role.

But it is unlikely coach Ricky Stuart will roll out the new combination on Friday night in his side's first trial match against Parramatta at St Marys Oval in Sydney's west.

The Raiders will use the trial as an opportunity for younger players on development and train-and-trial contracts to press their case for selection.

Some of the club's new recruits are also a chance of featuring, former New Zealand Warrior Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and former Wigan Warrior Ryan Sutton could get a run. However, fellow English recruit John Bateman won't take the field.

 

Nicoll-Klokstad has been vocal about his ambitions to play fullback, meaning Stuart will have a selection dilemma on his hands with Nick Cotric and Brad Abbey already the top contenders to replace Wighton if he does make a move into the halves.

Nick Cotric could line up at No.1 for the Raiders.
Nick Cotric could line up at No.1 for the Raiders. DEAN LEWINS

A squad of about 22 players will travel to Sydney for the trial.

Stuart will name close to a full squad the following week against Canterbury in Bega.

It will be a similar scenario for Parramatta with coach Brad Arthur likely to save his first choice outfit for their second trial against the Penrith Panthers.

But Eels fans could get their first glimpse at up-and-coming youngster Dylan Brown. The five-eighth is expected to spend some time on the field in a bid to get in as many minutes under his belt as possible before round one.

Youngster Dylan Brown is set to see action for the Eels in the NRL pre-season.
Youngster Dylan Brown is set to see action for the Eels in the NRL pre-season.

Blake Ferguson, Bevan French and Brad Takairangi will feature in Friday's Indigenous v Maori All Stars match in Melbourne and won't be available.

Manu Ma'u, Will Smith, Nathan Brown and Kane Evans and fringe first-graders Greg Leleisiuao, Mika Sivo and Ray Stone will also miss out - they travel to Alice Springs this week to conduct skills and coaching clinics for young fans.

NRL 2019 PRE-SEASON FIXTURES

Friday, February 15:

Eels v Raiders, 7pm at St Mary's Stadium

Indigenous All Stars v Maori All Stars, 8pm at AAMI Park

Saturday, February 16:

Broncos v Souths Logan, 6pm at Father Ranger Oval, Warwick

Monday, February 18:

World Club Challenge: Roosters v Wigan Warriors, 6am AEDT, DW Stadium, Wigan

Friday, February 22:

Storm v Warriors, 7.50pm at Kardinia Park, Geelong

Saturday, February 23:

Titans v Cowboys, 5pm at Sunshine Coast Stadium

Raiders v Bulldogs: 5.30pm at Bega Recreation Ground

Rabbitohs v Panthers, 6pm at Redfern Oval

Dragons v Knights, 6.30pm Jubilee Stadium

Broncos v Wynnum Seagulls, 7pm at Kougari Oval, Wynnum

Sea Eagles v Cronulla Sharks, 7.30pm at Lottoland

Saturday, March 2:

New Zealand Warriors v Wests Tigers, 3pm (AEDT) at Northland Events Centre, Whangarei

Knights v Sharks, 5.30pm at Maitland

Titans v Broncos, 6.30pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Panthers v Eels, 7pm at Panthers Stadium

Sea Eagles v Roosters, 7pm at Central Coast Stadium

Cowboys v Storm, 7pm at Mackay

Charity Shield: Dragons v Rabbitohs, 7.30pm at Glen Willow Stadium, Mudgee

 

 

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