HE’D be a walk-up start at any club in Canberra but Queanbeyan Kangaroos halfback Clint Wright has become accustomed to playing second fiddle over the past two years.
Playing alongside a bloke with 83 NRL and English Super League caps to his credit in Aaron Gorrell, Wright has taken a backseat in Queanbeyan’s recent premiership winning heroics.
That was before Gorrell’s season-ending knee injury against the Belconnen United Scholars two weeks ago. Suddenly, Wright has found himself thrust firmly into the spotlight.
With Gorrell no chance of returning to the field in 2012, Wright now stands as the club’s key playmaker and attacking lynchpin.
With the Kangaroos sitting on top of the Canberra Raiders Cup ladder and chasing an historic third-straight title, it’s a heavy burden to bear.
But for the man himself, Gorrell’s absence could also provide the platform to stake his claim as a leader in his own right.
“Definitely it’s an opportunity for me,” Wright said. “It’s a chance for me to really step up and take my game to the next level…to prove to ‘Goz’ and the rest of the boys that I can be a leader in this team.
“Normally I help Goz out by just managing my side of the field but now I’m going to have to step up and lead the boys around the park.”
While Gorrell’s reputation casts a long shadow over any potential replacement, Wright is not without credentials of his own.
The 23-year-old is the current ACT representative halfback and last year produced a man-of-the-match performance in the Kangaroos 20-16 grand final win over the Queanbeyan Blues.
Even so, there’s no doubt Gorrell’s contribution to Queanbeyan’s remarkable success over the past three years has come down to more than simply his abilities with ball in hand.
“Goz is obviously a great player but apart from his skills, his leadership is better than anyone I’ve ever played with,” Wright said. “You could definitely notice when he went off [against the Scholars].
“You could tell we were missing his voice on the field and that’s where I’m going to have to really step up for the rest of the year.”