'The power rests with us': NRL boss wants harsher Wighton ban

'The power rests with us': NRL boss wants harsher Wighton ban

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg wants the Canberra Raiders to enforce a harsher ban on Jack Wighton, criticising the club and revealing the league will reject a proposed six-week suspension.

The NRL standoff with the Raiders leaves Wighton's season hanging in the balance and it now appears he may not play again this year after Greenberg said the NRL "has the power" to extend the ban.

Jack Wighton could miss the rest of the NRL season.

Jack Wighton could miss the rest of the NRL season.Credit:AAP

The Raiders have been waiting for the NRL to approve their decision to suspend Wighton for six games after he pleaded guilty to unprovoked attacks on five men in Civic on February 3.

Wighton told police he did not remember anything about the night and his lawyers are seeking a suppression order on the CCTV footage.


The Raiders felt a six-week ban was a fair punishment given it was Wighton's first offence. But that didn't sit well with Greenberg or other NRL officials.

"I notice Canberra have proposed a six-week ban. We've viewed the footage and in our view it will warrant a stronger action than that, and that will be a discussion we will have directly with the Canberra club over the next couple of days," Greenberg said on Thursday.

"We made our feelings pretty clear to Canberra. They made a decision. Ultimately the power rests with us to come over the top if we don't think the sanction is high enough.

"I'm not foreshadowing that today. What I am foreshadowing is that there will be a discussion had with Canberra."

The Raiders declined to comment after learning of Greenberg's stance. Greenberg said the Raiders could still decide the punishment, but made it clear the Green Machine needed a more severe sanction.


The Raiders have been one of the leading clubs in cracking down on poor player behaviour in previous years, sacking Todd Carney, Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson and Bronx Goodwin.

All of those players were allowed to return to the NRL at other clubs.

"We have always maintained that players at clubs are their employees and they set culture within their clubs," Greenberg said.

"To be frank, Canberra have done a very good job of that over a long period of time, making hard decisions around players. On this occasion we will have a discussion with the club."

Police facts, tendered in court last Friday, said the footage showed Wighton had just left a Civic nightclub, about 2.45am when he headbutted and punched a man leaning on a shop window.

About 2.55am, a man approaches and shakes Wighton's hand, only for the NRL star to shove and then punch the victim in the face.

The documents said, about 10 minutes later, Wighton is seen to urinate on the road before attacking three men, headbutting and punching them in the head and face.

One victim suffered a laceration to the inside of his mouth, while another had a cut on his head.

The Raiders board met last week to discuss Wighton's immediate playing future and they submitted their six-week suspension to the NRL integrity unit that would have seen him return to the field this season.


But with eight games left in the regular season, Wighton may not suit up again for the Green Machine until next year.

Wighton pleaded guilty to five charges of assault and one of public urination. He will be sentenced on November 14.

Greenberg said the policy of club-imposed sanctions would remain in place but added the NRL would continue to intervene if they felt it warranted.

The NRL has taken a stance against misbehaving players in recent years, slapping serial offenders with lengthy bans and significant fines after off-field indiscretions.

Parramatta forward Kenny Edwards was sacked earlier this year for allegedly driving with a suspended licence, while last year he was suspended for seven games and fined $60,000 for domestic violence-related assault charges.

Newcastle halfback Mitchell Pearce was banned for eight games and fined $125,000 for simulating a sex act with a dog in 2016 when he was playing for the Sydney Roosters. He had $50,000 of his fine suspended.

Controversial Brisbane prop Matthew Lodge was sacked by the Wests Tigers after he assaulted and held hostage a couple and their nine-year-old son in New York in 2015. Lodge was only allowed to return to the NRL this season.

Eamonn Tiernan is a sports reporter with The Canberra Times

Most Viewed in Sport