Jack Wighton, a key player for the Canberra Raiders, may be able to get away with just paying a $3000 fine, even though the NRL match review committee has charged him following remarks he made to umpire Peter Gough during Sunday’s close-fought triumph over the West Tigers.
During the match, Wighton was overheard expressing to the referee that he was unduly favouring the Tigers after he was penalised for a high tackle aimed at Starford To’a, resulting in some tense moments during the 22-18 victory.
Wighton went as far as telling Gough: “You’re pushing for them to win this. You’re really pushing. It was a clean tackle.”
In the heat of the moment, Gough didn’t choose to send Wighton off the field. Instead, he told the Raiders star to “pull back” if he wanted to continue playing.
On Monday, the match review committee, through listening to the audio microphones, charged Wighton with contrary conduct. If Wighton decides to challenge the grade 1 charge at the judiciary and loses, he will face not only the $3000 fine, but a two-game suspension as well.
Despite the controversy, the Raiders maintain their fifth position after their win, remaining a contender for a top-four position.
This incident involving Wighton in penalising breach follows just a month after Reece Walsh from the Broncos earned a three-game suspension following a verbal tirade directed at referee Chris Butler during a game.
Post the match, Wests Tigers‘ coach Tim Sheens was critical of the officials, specifically in response to the defeat, which puts his squad in danger of the wooden spoon. He criticised two passes, both by Wighton, which led to Raiders tries.
A sarcastic Sheens said: “I have quite some disappointment with some of the decisions. I’ve got to commend Rick for managing a squad that, according to our statistician, didn’t concede a single extra set of six – impressive coaching.”
He continued: “Particularly with the first try, I was unhappy, I think there was a forward pass involved. A couple – one in the second half and the one leading up to the first try – I was far from pleased with, so this is a matter I’ll be discussing with the referees as I do each week.”