Jack Wighton vows to avoid the mistakes that could cost him his career after the ARL Commission's hardline stance on player behaviour fired a league-wide warning to "pull your head in".
Wighton feared his career could have ended after his drunken assault of five men was captured on CCTV footage during a night out in Civic in February 2018.
Now the Raiders five-eighth is on his last chance and he is adamant there will be "no more blunders" with the Raiders warning him a repeat offence will see him axed by the club.
The NRL has endured a horror off-season of off-field behaviour, with the ARLC standing down three players after announcing major changes to the game's disciplinary policy concerning players accused of serious crimes.
Any player who is charged with an offence that carries a maximum prison term of 11 years or more will be automatically stood down, while NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg can stand down players charged with offences below that threshold at his own discretion. Players remain on full pay as they continue to train with their teams.
The NRL banned Wighton for 10 matches when he pleaded guilty last year.
"From what’s been going on, looking from the outside, there’s going to be some big changes in the game. It's a 'pull your head in big time' warning for everyone in the game," Wighton said.
"I definitely found a new outlook on life and on the game [during my suspension]. It just showed me how much I do love the game.
"I’m getting older now, I’ve got to take every chance I get, take it with both hands and really run with it. No more blunders, it’s all got to be now or nothing, that’s the way I feel about everything now.
"I fell well short of the finals with the stuff off the field, so it’s been a long time off the paddock. I’m very keen to get back on and just play some footy, and feel like an athlete again.
"I’ve done my time, done my punishments, they’re all out of the road and I'm ready to roll. I’m ready to go, no more thinking about it, it’s all over now."
While Wighton is preparing to line up at five-eighth in Canberra's season opener against the Gold Coast Titans on March 17, a handful of other stars will be watching round one from afar.
Ben Barba was sacked by the North Queensland Cowboys and deregistered by the NRL after an alleged domestic violence incident involving his partner Ainslie Currie at a Townsville casino.
St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin (charged with aggravated sexual assault), Manly's Dylan Walker (charged with the common assault of his fiancee), and Tyrone May (arrested and charged with two counts of allegedly filming and two counts of disseminating sexual acts with two women without their knowledge and consent) have all been stood down under the NRL's new hardline stance.
Raiders forward Josh Papalii, who endured his own off-field troubles in 2017, hoped the start of the season would life a "black cloud" hovering over the competition.
"Just don't be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even better, don't do anything bad at all," Papalii said.
"I think it all puts a black cloud over the the games. [Wighton] has done more good than bad to this club and for the community."
The Raiders initially banned Wighton for six games, but the NRL over-ruled that decision and increased it to 10 weeks after he pleaded guilty to five counts of assault in three separate incidents.
Wighton was banned for six games by the Raiders last season after he pleaded guilty to five counts of assault in three separate incidents within 20 minutes of each other.
"I don’t want to be a preacher. Just because I mucked up I don’t want to preach," Wighton said.
"But if any of them do come to me with advice, questions or feel like they’re going towards situations, they know I’m very happy to talk to them. I’ll do anything to stop them going down that road."
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