Wighton goes from Lee provider to denier

Scott Bailey
·2-min read

It was once Jack Wighton's job to put Brenko Lee into space but on Wednesday night he'll be the man charged with trying to shut him down.

Wighton was Lee's inside man when he made his NRL debut for Canberra in 2014, being the first man on the spot to celebrate the Junior Kangaroos' maiden first-grade try.

The pair played 11 games together between 2014 and 2016, with Wighton spending the bulk of the final two years at fullback.

But on Wednesday night he will turn into Lee's arch-nemesis, lining up on NSW's left edge with Lee expected to play right for Queensland.

"I love Brenks. He is a good kid. But it all boils down to nothing on Wednesday night though," Wighton said.

"He's evolved and come a long way.

"He's always been the same kid and always had the talent, everyone knows that."

Lee is perhaps the most unlikely of the Maroons' Origin bolters.

He was cut by Gold Coast just last year after struggling to get a game in their wooden spoon season and considered quitting on his NRL dream.

The 24-year-old was picked up off the scrap heap at the start of 2020 by Melbourne, won a premiership and is now set for his Origin debut.

"It's a great yarn," Wighton said.

"He's always been chasing his tail. He's had a few little downfalls so it's definitely been a good story this year.

"I can only speak from when he was down there with us, but he has always been a good kid."

Lee himself can hardly believe he will run onto the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday, and is one of the biggest winners of the series' move to the end of the year given his late rise.

He was immediately buoyed by Bennett's declaration to him he would play right centre, the same spot where he found a home at the Storm this year.

"Not in my wildest dreams did I think this was going to happen," Lee said.

"I knew there was an opportunity there if I took it.

"But I didn't think it would pan out with me winning a comp into an Origin series, that was he last thing in my thought process."