'Getting taken out': Coach says star is being illegally targeted

The Raiders coach says Jack Wighton is being unfairly taken out during matches. Pic: Getty

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart says he hopes the NRL will look into claims his star five-eighth Jack Wighton is being illegally targeted during matches this season.

Stuart says opposition sides have identified Wighton’s effectiveness at chasing down his own kicks and insists they’ve begun to employ illegal tactics to nullify the threat.

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Wighton missed the end of Sunday's loss to Newcastle after copping a head knock and failing his concussion check, following late contact from Sione Mata'utia.

Stuart does not believe there was any malice from Mata'utia or teammate Jacob Saifiti to hurt Wighton, but is worried about the increasing trend.

He told Wighton last week to approach referees to voice his concerns on Sunday, after feeling he'd routinely been hit late in the opening three rounds.

"Jack's been getting taken out of play after he kicks quite often," Stuart said.

"It's something we spoke about this week. I asked him to go to the referees and talk about it on the field, in regards to 'do I take this into my own hands?'

"Because he's known as a very good kick chaser after he kicks, he gets pulled and tugged off the ball.

"You can't be taking kickers out of play once they kick and want to chase."

Stuart confident NRL will address concerns

Raiders consultant Michael Ennis was also vocal over the issue in commentary, insistent it was something Wighton had copped throughout the opening rounds.

Stuart does not want to make a big deal over the issue and said he would not approach the NRL over the matter.

However, he was confident his issue would be heard by the league.

"I'm sure they will hear it, so they should be looking at it. I'm sure they will," Stuart said.

The NRL launched a crackdown on defenders attacking the legs of kickers early last season.

But Sunday's incident was nowhere near in the same realm with no play at the legs.

Instead, Wighton has been more been pulled out of play this year rather than dangerously hit.