Wighton experiment not half over

He's been thrown back into the centres to rediscover his confidence, but Canberra's Jack Wighton five-eighth experiment isn't scrapped just yet.

Raiders assistant coach Dean Pay hinted Wighton's long-term future remained in the halves, despite Canberra finally yielding and moving him back out wide for Sunday's home clash with Penrith after back-to-back hidings by Manly and New Zealand.

The 21-year-old has played in the halves all season but was outstanding at centre in Country's draw with City, finishing with more than 170 metres and a line break.

Fellow Country centre Dylan Walker also began the season in the unfamiliar No.6 role for Souths, before returning to centre.

He used the confidence borne from the Dubbo clash to score four tries in the Rabbitohs' win over Gold Coast last week, and Pay is hopeful Wighton will enjoy a similar resurgence.

"Hopefully he'll give us more strike on that edge, he's happy to go back out there,'' Pay said. "We still think he's a six, but he needs to get some confidence back.

"He enjoys getting in the centres and running the ball, that's what he's good at. We'll see how we play and it's not to say he won't be moved back in there [five-eighth later this year] as well.''

Highly-rated young halfback Mitch Cornish remains a chance to make his NRL debut after being named on an extended eight-man bench.

The 21-year-old and promoted winger Mosese Pangai have been part of a dominant left edge for NSW Cup affiliate Mounties.

Before season kick-off Raiders coach Ricky Stuart told Cornish his first grade debut would likely be off the bench, but it's concerns over his defence that have prompted Canberra to be cautious.

Mounties coach Steve Antonelli believes he'll be ready to make the step up if given the nod. Canberra has the option of putting Cornish into halfback mid-game, with Josh McCrone moving back to hooker where he's played all season.

"If they had to call him up he could handle it, I reckon,'' Antonelli said. "He needs to strengthen his 'D' up, the last few weeks we've been working on that and he's getting better at it. I think it's been good for him to be in NSW Cup for a while and play against men.''

Pay said Cornish remained a chance to make the final cut against Penrith, a match Canberra must win to win back respect.

"We've got a number of options there to weigh up, that's why we named so many players because we're still making a final decision,'' he said. "Mitch has been going really well in second grade on that left side, as has Pangai and Sami Sauiluma.

"Hopefully we can see some of that in first grade.''

The powerful Pangai, who replaces Bill Tupou, has been playing centre for Mounties, and Antonelli likened how he goes about his game to Queensland Origin legend Gene Miles.

It's a fair rap for a 22-year-old whose sole NRL appearance was for North Queensland 802 days ago.

Canberra has fielded one of the NRL's smallest back threes this year in Reece Robinson, Anthony Milford and Tupou, and Antonelli believes his kick returns will be a bonus.

"He reminds me of Gene Miles because when he wants to he's unstoppable, that's how big and powerful he is,'' Antonelli said. "The problem with Mosese is he didn't believe in himself, but I told him you can play first grade if you're consistent. If he goes good they'll have trouble with the size of him.''

The story Wighton experiment not half over first appeared on Canberra Times.

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