NRL delay points to battle with Raiders over Jack Wighton ban

A battle is brewing between the Canberra Raiders and the NRL over the length of Jack Wighton's suspension, with the governing body yet to rubber stamp the proposed six-week ban.

The Raiders announced they want Wighton to miss six games, including the two he's already sat out, on Monday.

While the NRL met on Monday night to discuss the proposed sanctions for the Canberra fullback's late-night Civic brawl in February, they are yet to give it the green light.

A battle is brewing over the length of Raiders fullback Jack Wighton's ban.

A battle is brewing over the length of Raiders fullback Jack Wighton’s ban.

The feeling inside the Raiders camp was the delay meant the NRL want a bigger ban. They have known the Raiders board wanted a six-week ban since Friday.

Wighton pled guilty to five charges of assault and one of public urination, but doesn't face sentencing until November 14.

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.

The Raiders have also taken a hard-line stance to off-field behaviour in the past, sacking Todd Carney, Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson only to see the trio restart their careers at other NRL clubs.

The club is treating Wighton's incident as a first offence and have reflected that in his club-imposed sanction of a six-week ban.

Meanwhile, Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin revealed he'd shut the door on a move to the English Super League just six weeks ago.

Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin signed a three-year deal to join Warrington next season.

Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin signed a three-year deal to join Warrington next season.

But a chat with Warrington Wolves coach Steve Price just a fortnight ago opened the door for the three-year-deal Austin announced on Tuesday – just days after he produced a match-winning performance against the Canterbury Bulldogs.

The 27-year-old has played 80 games for the Raiders over four seasons and said he was going over with the mindset he wouldn't be returning to the NRL.

He was sad to be leaving Canberra, where he and his partner Gillian bought their first family home, but he hoped he would be remembered as a player who gave his all for the Green Machine every time he ran out.

Austin was named Dally M five-eighth of the year in his first season with the Raiders, having played 34 NRL games for Penrith and Wests Tigers.

"I'm going over to play good footy and hopefully bring some success to Warrington," he said.

"I think if I went over there with any other mindset I might struggle and miss home too much so it's going to be important to play good footy there and be contributing to Warrington.

"My career was hovering for a while before I came here [to Canberra]. I think it's been a good mutual relationship.

"I think I've brought plenty to the club and on the flipside the club's certainly done plenty for me."

Austin was not only linked to several Super League clubs, but the Parramatta Eels as well.

He said the Eels had been a serious option before he decided to head to northern England instead.

"They were an option and one that I considered pretty heavily," Austin said.

"I would've been 10 minutes from Mum and Dad, I supported the club as a kid, but weighing all things up I'm pretty excited about heading to the Super League and seeing what it's all about."


Saturday: Canberra Raiders v North Queensland Cowboys at Canberra Stadium, 7.35pm. Live on Fox League.

Raiders: 1. Nick Cotric, 2. Michael Oldfield, 3. Jarrod Croker (c), 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Sam Williams, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Dunamis Lui, 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. Junior Paulo, 11. Joe Tapine, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Josh Papalii. Interchange from: 14. Blake Austin, 15. Luke Bateman, 16. Siliva Havili, 17. Sia Soliola, 18. Liam Knight, 19. Jack Murchie, 20. Royce Hunt, 21. Craig Garvey.

Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Enari Tuala, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Te Maire Martin, 7. Johnathan Thurston (c), 8. John Asiata, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Scott Bolton, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Coen Hess, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange from: 14. Ben Hampton, 15. Shaun Fensom, 16. Shane Wright, 17. Corey Jensen, 18. Justin O'Neill, 19. Ethan Lowe, 20. Mitchell Dunn, 21. Francis Molo, 23. Jake Clifford.

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