26 April 2023

Raiders fans are right to be gutted by Jack Wighton’s signing with Souths

| Tim Gavel
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Jack Wighton will be closely scrutinised for the rest of his time with the Raiders. Photo: Liv Cameron.

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.

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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.

2020 Dally M Medal winner; Jack Wighton. Photo: Canberra Raiders Twitter.

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?

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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.

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I think his decision is entirely rational. He’s been here ages, reached a peak in 2019/20 and can’t see the club has a path to getting back to that level any time soon, plus he gets to play with some friends, a different/better coach, a realistic chance of success, change of scenery etc. And it’s not like he’s taking a pay cut. He’ll be earning roughly what he has been earning. He’s not losing something he already had, just sacrificing a pay increase, which in my view was unrealistic anyway. I can’t blame him for making this move.

I’m very disappointed he’s going but it’s his choice, which he was free to make. So be it. What I am really annoyed about is this ridiculous so called “window” only two months into the season. Whatever the outcome it is very unsettling for the team trying to hang on to their player. It stinks!

PC__LoadLetter11:28 am 27 Apr 23

If he doesn’t want to be here, so be it. He should be benched though. It’s going to be a middle-of-the-pack year this year. I have no problem with that. But next year & thereafter, we will do better if our younger players have more first grade experience. And then give the Rabbitohs an out-of-shape player next year.

Perhaps if the Raiders took a look in the mirror rather than laying the blame at everyone else’s feet they might work out why he left for a significant amount less than he would of got to stay…

Capital Retro5:41 pm 26 Apr 23

It should have happened years ago. He is a talented player but needs management outside the game. He certainly isn’t worth the $4million he was offered.

That $4million can be used to buy several younger talents just like Wighton was many years ago.

It’s a wierd situation to have a player announcing their impending departure half way through the season. Why not just let him go now? I understand there’s discussion of a mid season trade period in AFL. It would have players being traded immediately – which seems logical, if a player is not wanted / doesn’t want to continue with the club why make it drag on?

It doesn’t make sense to trade mid season. One would just throw games for one club to benefit the new club.

You can’t win where your poor performance contributes to the win.

At least its consistent for AFL, tie the grand final and have to replay it from scratch. Who thought that was a good idea?

“It doesn’t make sense to trade mid season. One would just throw games for one club to benefit the new club.”
Sorry, I truly don’t understand what your saying. If a player moves to their new club mid-season, why would they throw the game at the new club?

They would throw the games before moving…

ummm – I just said they would move immediately, once the trade decision is made – not like Wighton, anounce now and move later … so again what is your point?

We always seem to win more games when he’s not playing. As a team we do better.
Its not a team player and usually chooses to go himself and score a try than more balanced playing as a team.

Ricky should sit him on the bench for most of the rest of the season (We aren’t doing that well anyway).
Give some new players a go and give the rabbits a cold player.

Can see why hes going to be a bunny he and Mitchel like to get into trouble together.
One has to wonder if the reason they got into a biff was that Mitchel already knew about the move and wanted to stir up trouble.

He definitely needs to move on. He obviously wants to be a part of a premiership side and it’s not happening here. In fact a whole new clean out is required now starting with the coach.

AnimalLover typical fair weather Raiders supporter there i see. i love reading all the comments on facebook about getting rid of players or coaches then the next week after a good win “lets sign ricky long term” its pathetic. Players leave clubs all the time, and to be fair a club can also tell a player they are not wanted at any stage. dont give me any crap about loyalty etc. Stick at it boys.

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