Jack Wighton has retired from representative footy at the age of 30 with the news leaving New South Wales selector Greg Alexander surprised. Wighton has been in the centre of contract speculation in recent weeks with the Canberra five-eighth test the NRL open market.
Despite Canberra's recent rollercoaster-form, Wighton is seen as a possible selection for the Blues having played well in his 10 games at representative level. However, in a shock move, the 30-year-old has announced he won't be up for selection for this year's State of Origin as he calls time on representative footy.
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Wighton had also played five games for the Kangaroos as he helped Australia win the Rugby League World Cup, while playing in the centres, last year. And the sudden call on his career has left Blues selector Alexander surprised.
Alexander confirmed Wighton had spoken to Blues coach Brad Fittler on Monday and that his decision was a tough blow to the team. Jack spoke to Freddy and has told him of his disappointing decision to retire from representative football,” Alexander told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“He has said that he wants to focus on family and club footy. It’s a blow for us. He has been an important part of our squad for the last five years and would have been in the mix again. We’ve loved having Jack in camp and in the team.
“He’s an Origin player. He’s been a great player not only for NSW, but for Australia and the Indigenous All Stars. It’s disappointing he won’t be able to be part of this series.”
On the weekend, Alexander admitted he was surprised about the reports considering Wighton was once again in Origin selection contention. Wighton would have been in a selection race against Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic for the centre pairing for the Blues.
Wighton could have also been seen as an option off the bench, considering he can play centre and in the halves. However, he was dropped for the third game in the series last year for Matt Burton.
Jack Wighton's NRL contract negotiations
Wighton's representative retirement comes as the five-eighth reportedly told Canberra he wants to explore his options on the open market. Wighton is a one-club player and has been at Canberra for 14 years.
While this doesn't mean Wighton will leave the club, it could attract lucrative offers from rival clubs. CEO Don Furner acknowledged it could be the five-eighth's last big contract and encouraged him to consider his options.
However, Furner said they would do everything to keep him. "Jack has been incredibly loyal to the Raiders over 14 seasons and never tested himself on the market, he has always committed to this club," Furner told AAP.
"Jack has a very young family, and this could be his last contract, so he should make sure he is absolutely 100 per cent comfortable with his decision. The Raiders will do whatever we can to keep Jack a one-club player and will continue to talk to his management about a package to retain him."
Wighton has reportedly been offered around $1 million to stay at the club on a multi-year deal.
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