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Jack Wighton’s South Sydney career could start with a lengthy stint on the sideline after he was directly referred to the judiciary for allegedly biting Newcastle’s Tyson Gamble.
Wighton’s last game in a 12-year career with Canberra was marred by biting allegations after the Knights’ stunning extra-time win on Sunday, which ended the Raiders’ season and Wighton’s 241-game spell with his junior club.
The 30-year-old will arrive at the Rabbitohs as their star signing, but Tuesday night’s judiciary hearing will dictate when the ex-Blues and Kangaroos utility first pulls on the cardinal and myrtle.
The last biting charge in the NRL led to former Titans skipper Kevin Proctor being banned for four games, while Brisbane’s NRLW winger Ashleigh Werner was given a two-game suspension (reduced due to the shorter NRLW season) when she was found guilty of biting earlier this year.
Wighton strenuously denied Gamble’s claim that he bit his forearm on Sunday afternoon.
Gamble was just as adamant he had, remonstrating with referee Ashley Klein after reeling out of a tackle in the 47th minute where his forearm had crept up around Wighton’s head and onto his face.
Jack Wighton is placed on report.Credit: Getty
“Mate that’s slobber, that’s not sweat. There’s a bite mate. He bit me,” Gamble said when Klein asked if he was following through with a proper complaint.
“There is a mark there, but tell me what you are seeing,” Klein told the bunker as Gamble presented his forearm.
“I have got one line of teeth marks alone. Is there a definite bite or do we need to put it on report?”
Wighton said in response: “Sir, I can’t move my mouth, he has to move his arm.”
Klein eventually opted to place Wighton on report rather than send him off directly due to the bunker’s doubts about what happened.
“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.”
A direct judicial referral will require Wighton to enter a plea. If he is found guilty, it gives the judiciary panel scope to issue a punishment beyond the maximum five-week suspension he would face for dangerous contact. A shorter ban can also be issued by the panel.
Given Wighton’s representative retirement, any suspension would be served in South Sydney’s 2024 NRL campaign, starting with their season-opening clash with Manly in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Adam Elliott can escape suspension with an early guilty plea and $3000 fine for a high tackle on Canberra’s Joe Tapine. Roosters half Sam Walker has accepted a $1000 fine for his own high shot on Braydon Trindall.
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