The player Blues are happy to excuse from Raiders ruin
His struggling Raiders have won just three games this season but NSW adviser Greg Alexander has quickly moved to reassure Canberra star Jack Wighton that he remains firmly in State of Origin contention.
And Alexander's comments come as leading Australian sports psychologist Phil Jauncey says Canberra's horrible second half fade-outs come from mental confusion.
The Raiders lead Newcastle 16-0 at halftime on Saturday in Wagga before the Knights scored 24 unanswered points to consign Canberra to a sixth loss this season, their fifth in succession.
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Like the majority of Canberra players, Wighton's stats have been modest but he has a staunch supporter in the influential Alexander.
"Canberra are struggling but you don't pick an Origin side based on how a club team is travelling," Alexander said. "Jack has lost no ground.
"He was last year's Dally M player of the year, I thought he was their best player last week and I thought he had a good first half on Saturday.
"You'd love to see all players in career-best form before you pick the team but that just doesn't happen.
"You always think about blokes who can do the job and Jack Wighton is the type of player whose game is suited to Origin. He doesn't necessarily need his team going well to play well. Jack can be a front-foot or backfoot player."
Wighton is an incumbent NSW centre along with Parramatta's Clint Gutherson.
The Raiders star will again push hard for selection but may need to lift his form a peg or two in coming weeks.
Wighton is also being considered as a five-eighth along with Jarome Luai and Cody Walker, who can also play fullback.
"Cody has some utility value but so has Jack. Jack has played centre but hasn't yet played five-eighth at Origin, but that doesn't mean he's not in the mix to play five-eighth," Alexander said.
Wighton's Raiders have been inexplicably crumbling during the second half of games.
Unbelievably, Canberra has been outscored 93-8 in the second half of their past five games.
The loss to Newcastle was the third time this season Canberra has bombed a 16 points or larger lead to lose.
"From a psychological point of view, once you think there is a pattern there, the brain looks for evidence of 'here we go again'," Jauncey said.
"When that happens, you think 'we're out of control' and that 'we can't do it'.
"As soon as something bad happens early in the early second half, players get that 'here we go again syndrome', as I call it.
"And when that happens, you're no longer in control of your own destiny. What I teach people in any sports is that the ball and bat don't care how you feel. Once we hear we have a problem then we start believing it.
"Typically, when you start talking about a pattern then it's really hard for players not to think about that pattern. If I say: 'Don't think about an apple', then what do you think of?
"The rules don't change if you're six points up or six points down. What you have to do is keep executing and if you do that then the end result will take care of itself. When you start looking at the scoreboard that's when you're in trouble.
"The moment you think you have to score, that's when you take unacceptable risks. You just have to keep advancing the ball and, if you do that, then you score."
Originally published as The player Blues are happy to excuse from Raiders ruin