NRL, Raiders to take hard line on Wighton
THE NRL and Canberra are facing yet another diffuclt decision based on ethical standards with Raiders star Jack Wighton facing nine seperate criminal charges related to his alleged involvement in a bloodied fight in the ACT.
With the likelihood of his career at risk, Wighton spent Friday in meetings with his legal team after receiving notice to attend the ACT Magistrates court at 9am on Wednesday.
The charges are believed to be varying in seriousness and involve more than three individuals.
Wighton, 25, is alleged to have been involved in an incident outside a Canberra nightclub five weeks before the start of the NRL season.
The Raiders contacted NRL Intergity Unit boss Karyn Murphy in February immediately upon learning of Wighton's alleged involvement in teh incident.
Murphy has remained in regular contact with the club while the police report of the incident has been sighted by Wighton and his solicitor.
ACT Police have obtained CCTV footage of the brawl.
Having joined the Raiders as a teenager, Wighton has long been regarded as future star by the club, evident in his current contract which was recently extended until 2020.
However, the NRL and Canberra will be forced into deciding whether to tear up that same contract should he be found guilty.
Under mass pressure in the wake of rubber-stamping controversial Brisbane prop Matt Lodge's return to the game, the NRL are also on the verge of offering another lifeline to Todd Carney.
The Raiders have time and again taken a hard-line stance against players who bring the game into disrepute, highlighted by the departures of Blake Ferguson, Joel Monaghan, Josh Dugan and Carney.
The club will have no hesitation severing ties with Wighton, should he be found guilty.
However, the Raiders would undoubtedly demand support from the NRL - something they have claimed in the past didn't happen - in ensuring a rival club doesn't benefit should they be forced to let Wighton go.
Wighton, who became a father for the second time on Thursday, was a late withdrawal from the Raiders' first win of the season against Canterbury on Thursday night.
Wednesday will prove crucial in determining whether he has played his last in the lime green jersey.
In much less serious circumstances, off-contract half Blake Austin has won a reprieve from coach Ricky Stuart as he attempts to continue continue his career in Canberra..
Having been dropped to the Raiders feeder-team Mounties on Saturday, Austin was spared from featuring in the second-tier match due to NRL half Sam Williams suffering a knee injury in the club's win over the Bulldogs.
The injury will sideline Williams for the next three weeks.
Austin will take Williams' spot in the Raiders' starting line-up against Parramatta at GIO Stadium on Saturday.