“I’m very, very proud but I’m a little bit disappointed how the club went about the jersey and that. I feel like we just ticked a box, no one got any input,” Wighton said on Wednesday.
“We’ve got a lot of First Nations people of all different types – Samoans and Maoris and that, you know – and no one really had any say about the jersey.
“I think you can tell. We had a whole canvas and they just put a little design on the sleeve. We didn’t hear nothing about it until this week. No one came to us for any ideas.
“In previous years we’ve had a lot to do with it and the club has run things past us but I felt like they got lazy this year.”
Canberra chief executive Don Furner declined to comment when approached on Wednesday night.
The Indigenous artwork on the Raiders jumper was designed by artist Lynnice Church, an Aboriginal woman from the Ngunnawal, Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi tribes, and stretches down the side of the jersey.
Wighton, however, does not believe the jumper matches up to some of the other clubs’ Indigenous round playing strips or is the result of similar consultation with players.
Among them is South Sydney’s jersey for their clash with St George Illawarra, which includes a handprint of the club’s eight Indigenous players in its top 30, inside of which is a totem for their tribe. At the centre of the jumper, which was designed by playmaker Cody Walker’s uncle Joe, is a black rabbit.
“They’ve got the best stories and put a bit of effort in. I just feel like we ticked a box this year,” Wighton said.
“It’s terrible. I’m filthy. It’s the one round to share culture, you know what I mean, to get our artwork and stories out there, and I feel like we’ve put a pretty poor effort in, if I’m to be honest.”
The Raiders have been expecting Test front-rower Josh Papalii to make the trip north this weekend after it emerged he had agreed to have a flu vaccination. The club had put in an application to the Queensland government for fellow forward Joe Tapine, who has declined to have the vaccination, to gain an exemption.
Canberra welcome back John Bateman from injury while new arrival Corey Harawira-Naera has been named on the bench.
Chris Barrett is Chief Sports Reporter of The Sydney Morning Herald.