AAP Rugby

Canberra’s halves duo grow into NRL finals

By AAP Newswire

The kids have grown up.

The last time Canberra played in the NRL finals Jack Wighton was a talented but immature 23-year-old, while Aidan Sezer admits he thought he knew it all.

Fast-forward three years and five-eighth Wighton has "found his groove" in a new position and halfback Sezer has learned to love the game again.

They're the unlikely halves duo leading the Raiders towards their first title in 25 years as the club looks to capitalise on a rare premiership window.

Canberra burst into the 2016 finals on the back of high-tempo attacking football but were bundled out after two low-scoring defeats.

It took three years, but the Green Machine changed tact and became a defensive powerhouse. Wighton said they now operate as a well-oiled machine instead of relying on individual brilliance.

"I've changed position and I think I've found my groove and just we've matured. We're not playing that crazy, frantic football anymore," Wighton told AAP.

"We're sticking to our guns and trusting the processes and working together and that really helps because if you try to do things on your own you get found out."

Sezer was a high-profile recruit when he arrived from the Gold Coast in 2016 and in his first season led the Raiders to second - their best finish in more than two decades.

But after getting injured earlier this season he failed to win his spot back in first grade. The halfback toiled away in reserves before forcing his way back in.

"When you get to your later 20s you realise you don't know the game as much as what you think you do when you're younger," Sezer said.

"I'm definitely enjoying the game a lot more than what I was a couple of years ago and looking forward to challenges a lot more.

"Things that have gone on this year, you've just got to get back to the essence of why you love the game and why you appreciate what you do and that's just playing footy."

Sezer believes the time has arrived to win Canberra's first title since 1994.

"The group is hungrier after the pretty poor seasons we've had in the last couple of years," he said.

"We just believe in our process now instead of overthinking and overanalysing everything.

"We can definitely win it."