Departing Raiders gun Jack Wighton has been found guilty of biting and banned by the NRL judiciary for three matches after an allegation was made by Knights five-eighth Tyson Gamble to referee Ash Klein during Sunday’s epic elimination final.
Canberra was dumped from the finals in sensational fashion after Kalyn Ponga kicked a penalty goal deep into extra time to condemn the Raiders.
That signalled the end of Wighton’s time at the Green Machine, with the star utility now set for a stint on the sidelines when he first links up with the Rabbitohs in 2024. However, reports of his backflip of representative retirement could provide a loophole for the club.
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The incident occurred early in the second half, with Wighton on the ground after being tackled, and Gamble, one of the tacklers, lying on top of the Raiders star, with his arm across Wighton’s face.
When the pair rose to his feet, a furious Gamble immediately complained and showed a mark on his arm to Klein, who stopped the game so that the incident could be reviewed. After replays proved inconclusive Klein put Wighton on report but took no further action, with the Raiders retaining possession and Wighton instructed to play the ball.
That decision left Knights players incensed, with Gamble continuing his protest with Klein.
“There’s a mark!” Gamble shouted, adding, “that’s slobber, that’s not sweat.”
That claim drew a response from Wighton.
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“Sir, he leans on the back of my head. What else am I supposed to do?” he asked.
“Sir, I can’t move my mouth. He’s got to move his arm,” Wighton pleaded when Klein put him on report.
That evidence was presented at the judiciary but Gamble chose not to testify, despite comments post-game suggesting some frustration.
”I don’t want to really comment, footy’s footy and we had a conversation after it. That’s all I’ll say,” Gamble said after full-time.
Asked if Wighton apologised, Gamble said: “No, not really. My arm was there and whatever happened afterwards, happened. I’ll leave it there.”
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The case was heard on Tuesday night with Kangaroos and Raiders legend Mal Meninga providing a character reference.
The only other player cited from Sunday’s clash was Gamble’s Knights teammate Adam Elliott, who was fined $3000 for a high tackle on Canberra’s Joe Tapine.
Roosters halfback Sam Walker accepted a $1000 fine for his own high shot on Braydon Trindall on Saturday night.