Wighton’s future uncertain following assault charge
CANBERRA fullback Jack Wighton's future is up in the air after the Raiders reluctantly stood down their star fullback hours after he pleaded guilty to assaulting five men during a night out celebrating his birthday in February.
The Raiders were going to allow Wighton to take his place in their side to face the Broncos tomorrow night, even flying him to Brisbane following Friday's court appearance.
But the NRL privately made it clear they would overrule the club and stand him down if they didn't relieve him of his playing duties.
After initially pleading not guilty to several charges in April, Wighton appeared at the ACT Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to two charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, three of common assault, and one count of public urination.
Seven other charges were withdrawn.
Raiders chief executive Don Furner confirmed the two parties were at logger heads over Wighton's immediate playing future.
"No [we are not on the same page]. That's all I'm going to say at the moment," Furner said.
In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the Raiders said they would "consult" the NRL next week to discuss any further sanctions.
The alleged incident occurred during the pre-season when Wighton was out celebrating his birthday and a fight broke out outside a popular nightclub in the early hours of February 3.
Senior NRL officials yesterday viewed CCTV footage police obtained of the incident.
The maximum penalty for assault occasioning bodily harm is five years in prison.
Wighton will face Galambany Court next week, a specialised court designed as an alternative pathway to the criminal justice system for indigenous offenders.
There it will be determined whether or not he is his eligible for circle sentencing, a process whereby a hearing is presided over by three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders.
The club will reassess their position on Wighton's future next week based on the recommendation of that hearing.
"Our view is we'll make a decision next week based on what they say [Galambany Court]," Furner said.
Any punishment must also be sanctioned by the NRL.
Furner said the 25-year old remained in a positive mind frame despite the court drama that unfolded on Thursday and that the club would continue to provide their full support.
"We've get his welfare at heart and he's doing well. We've offered him any counselling we feel he might need, he's in a good space at the moment," Furner said.
Wighton broke from the team camp on the Gold Coast to be in court Thursday morning and has since returned to Queensland.
Ricky Stuart is fully prepared for any last minute changes to his squad, with the coach sending his entire 21-man squad to prepare for Saturday night's crucial clash.