Jack Wighton’s decision to turn his back on the Raiders and sign with South Sydney raises more questions than it answers.
The four-year $4.4 million deal offered by the Raiders was the biggest in the club’s history.
Instead of taking this offering, Wighton has signed with the Rabbitohs for less.
I’m sure plenty of questions are being asked by the Raiders and their fans right now.
What price loyalty?
The Raiders nurtured Wighton through his teenage years when he came across from Orange. The club devoted plenty of time and energy in developing him to the point that he is now.
And the Raiders’ resources weren’t just devoted to improving him as a player.
The 2018 season was a bit of a write-off for the Raiders. They finished 10th on the ladder with 10 wins and 14 losses.
Jack Wighton missed the final 10 weeks after being suspended by the NRL after drunkenly assaulting five men in Civic.
The CCTV footage was telling, but the Raiders stood by their man.
At the time, he admitted that he could have easily been sacked but the Raiders. He praised the support he received from Don Furner, Ricky Stuart and Allan Hawke.
He vowed to repay the club on the field the following year. And that he certainly did.
He was a key player in the club’s drive towards the 2019 Grand Final. And Jack was named the Clive Churchill Medallist in the decider.
His move from fullback to five-eighth that season proved to be a decisive factor in the Raiders’ success.
Wighton will be under more scrutiny than ever for the remainder of his time with the Raiders. Any lapse in form will, no doubt, be linked to his departure at the end of the season.
The post-match media conferences will be interesting and potentially tense if the focus is on Wighton.
Does Ricky Stuart contemplate giving another player, such as Brad Schneider, an opportunity to spend time at number six?
Questions around the line-up of the team will be plenty, but just as important is consideration of the impact Jack’s decision will have on the psyche of the Raiders and their supporters.
Wighton reportedly will be on less money with the Rabbitohs than he was offered with the Raiders.
There have also been reports that Wighton wanted to go to a club with a greater opportunity to win a premiership – a body blow if this is true.
Will he be a better player under a different coach?
Ricky Stuart, from my observation, has devoted more time in developing Wighton as a player than any other during his time at the club.
Is he capable of being a better player at the Rabbitohs?
Potentially he could be, with Souths boasting plenty of firepower with Murray and Mitchell.
But let’s get back to one of the most difficult questions: How will this impact his Raiders teammates?
This is one of the questions that will no doubt be answered through the remainder of the season.
There is no doubt Wighton has put his body on the line for the Raiders, and there is also no doubt that Wighton has often carried the team through sheer competitive determination.
On the plus side, the Raiders will have plenty of room in the salary cap to pursue quality players.
It’s just a shame that we are losing a player that has been developed here and has proudly worn green for so long.