Red-hot halves steer Raiders' finals push

·3-min read

Many factors lie behind Canberra's stunning late-season charge to seize a spot in the NRL's finals, but it's hard to overlook their new halves combination as the driving force in their resurgence.

Newly-arrived halfback Jamal Fogarty missed the entire first half of the campaign after knee surgery, but he's clearly helped the Raiders turn a corner since his return, helping the side to nine wins from his 13 games.

His steady hand has allowed his Dally M medallist teammate Jack Wighton to hit season-best form at the perfect time of the year, and the pair have played inspired attacking football in the past fortnight as their side scored 104 points in two games.

Five-eighth Wighton, renowned for his brutal runs from the halves, says it's taken time but he feels the combination is firing on all cylinders, particularly with Fogarty doing the bulk of the kicking duties.

"I'm still steering the ship, but I've just got someone there I can flow with," he told AAP.

"He's creating opportunities on the right; if there's no opportunities on the right everyone sits on the left and mobs me.

"They know they've got to defend both side, that's a massive key, there's shape coming at you everywhere, not just on one side."

Wighton is the only member of the Raiders' run-on spine who has been a regular starter in previous years, with fullback Xavier Savage and hooker Zac Woolford also needing time to build cohesion with their new teammates.

"Me, Sav and Jam (Fogarty) have been together continuously for several games. It's something I haven't had for ages and it's been unreal," Wighton said.

"It's taken a load off me with the kicking and organising, (Fogarty) has come in and been a little general and that's all we asked from him.

"It's learning the little details of the way they work. We're all different, us footy players ... you've got to get 17 men on that day on the same page, doing the same thing and working with each other."

Fogarty, who the Gold Coast Titans ditched for young half Toby Sexton, has made his former club regret that decision with some form that's arguably the best of his career.

He credited Wighton, along with the Raider coaches for getting him up to speed so quickly.

"Jack has helped my game so much as my halves partner, as have all the other senior players," he told AAP.

"They give me confidence and control and there are times Jacko will challenge me. We are building nicely and I'm grateful to be a part of this team.

"It's good to have a bit of rhythm and combination because when your team is changing all the time it doesn't help.

"Me, Jack, Tommy (Tom Starling), Germ (Woolford) and Xavier, we've got some flow about us.

"It's not about how you start the season, it's how you finish."