Jack WIghton could have walked away without being arrested or charged by police for his role in ‘fighting’ good mate Latrell Mitchell on a Canberra street in the early hours of Sunday morning.
And police had to use special handcuffs just to bring Mitchell into custody because his wrists were too large for standard issue restraining devices.
As more details come to light over the incident that ended Wighton’s 30th birthday on a miserable note, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that Wighton had the option to just walk away.
However with both of their partners waiting at Wighton’s home, the Raiders star decided to show unity with his mate and join him in the police lockup.
Wighton had the opportunity to avoid arrest after the fighting incident with good mate Latrell Mitchell but decided to go to the police lockup anyway
The remorseful NRL stars apologised for their late night fight and consequent arrest, but it is the way they went about it that will surprise fans.
The South Sydney fullback was in Canberra to celebrate his good friend Wighton’s 30th birthday but it all went horribly wrong when they were seen wrestling outside a club on Bunda Street in the CBD around 3.45am.
They were consequently arrested and charged with fighting, and will face a Canberra court on February 22, a week before the NRL season starts.
Mitchell and Wighton are both free to play for the Indigenous All Stars this Saturday despite being arrested for fighting on the weekend
Mitchell looks on during the Star of the Ring III Charity Fight Night at Hordern Pavilion on February 08, 2019
The incident also occurred just one week before the NRL All Stars match with both players selected for the Indigenous All Stars side.
Mitchell and Wighton issued the following statement:
‘We wanted to express our remorse for putting ourselves in the position to embarrass our clubs and the NRL over the weekend,’ they said.
‘We were there to celebrate Jack’s 30th with family and friends. While everyone enjoyed a great night, we understand that our wrestle, as harmless as we believed it to be, was a poor decision and may have looked bad.
‘We are sorry for this and know that we need to be better when in public. We remain great friends, and are looking forward to proudly representing our community at the All-Stars this weekend.’
However, the way the apology was delivered also attracted attention, because it didn’t come through the NRL, South Sydney or Canberra Raiders media units.
Instead, it was issued through No Limits Boxing- even though neither star has ever climbed into the ring before.
Mitchell and Wighton are both signed by manager Matt Rose, who founded No Limits and also represents Souths star Cody Walker, emerging UFC star Tai Tuivasa and boxing star Tim Tszyu.
Rose is the founder of No Limits Bpxing and is also Mitchell and Wighton’s manager. Their apology was released through No Limits, not the NRL
Mitchell looks on during the Paul Gallen v Justin Hodges weigh in at the Aware Super Theatre on November 22, 2022
Wighton and Richmond Tigers AFL player Dustin Martin speak ringside during the under card bouts of the Sydney Super Fight in 2022
Rose told the Daily Telegraph the pair were good friends and downplayed the incident in the nation’s capital saying they were ‘always having a wrestle’.
‘They both think they are stronger than each other and are mucking around all the time,’ he said.
‘It was a bit of fun that went wrong after a few drinks.’
Meanwhile, shock jock Ray Hadley called for the duo to be banned from the All Stars match for their alleged fight.
‘I think they should be stood down from Saturday’s game at the very least,’ Hadley said on his 2GB morning program on Monday.
‘I think someone needs to move in and say, ‘Boys, jump on the next plane back from Auckland, you’re not playing in the All Stars, you’ll have a week to cool your heels.’ ‘
Controversial 2GB radio host Ray Hadley has called for the NRL to ban both players for their actions. The NRL has released a statement saying they are clear to play the All Stars match
The NRL has confirmed the incident – described by the players as ‘harmless’ – will not rule either player out of Saturday’s game against the Maori.
‘Both Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton remain available to participate in the 2023 All Stars match this Saturday in Rotorua,’ the NRL said in a statement.
‘The NRL will await the conclusion of the criminal proceedings before finalising its process, and determining any applicable sanction.’
The alleged offences do not meet the threshold of the NRL’s no-fault stand-down policy.
A witness told 7News that Mitchell and Wighton were ‘just mucking around and having a little bit of a laugh’ before police intervened.
‘[They] ripped him across the road and then just all jumped on him and tackled him for no reason at all,’ the witness said.
‘It was just really brutal and unnecessary for how many of them there were.’
Mitchell and Wighton speak to the media during a No Limit boxing promotional event for the Super Saturday Boxing Festival in 2022
Mitchell, Wighton and Josh Addo-Carr enjoying a day off in Scotland during the 2022 Rugby League World Cup
Walsh Bar owner Michael Bagley called the fight ‘a joke’ after both players started their evening in his bar.
‘If you think that they were fighting in any way shape or form, that’s just pathetic, that’s an absolute joke,’ he told 7News.
‘They’ve been hung out to dry and they’re good blokes.’
Mitchell has previously said he may launch a career in boxing after his NRL days are over.
‘As soon as I learn how to throw a punch – hopefully if I do that and don’t get ten weeks for it we’ll go from there,’ he said in December.
‘Matty [Rose] has been buttering me up a little bit but you have to train to be able to do it. In footy, we get people to rely on, to help you out on the field. But when you’re in the ring you’re by yourself – it’s a different mindset.
‘It could be challenging and competitive, which I like to be, and it could be something in the future maybe.’