Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton have both apologised over an alleged incident in Canberra over the weekend, that saw the two NRL superstars arrested. The pair have both left for New Zealand after being cleared to play in Saturday night's All Stars match, following a controversy in Canberra they've described as "embarrassing".
Mitchell and Wighton will hope to be able to represent the Indigenous side in Saturday's game against the Maori team in Rotorua, after becoming at the weekend that got out of hand. The players were celebrating Wighton's 30th birthday with family and friends when they were arrested on Bunda St in Canberra's CBD at 3.45am on Sunday morning.
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Canberra five-eighth Wighton was charged with fighting in a public place and failing to comply with an exclusion direction. South Sydney fullback Mitchell was charged with resisting a territory public official, fighting in a public place and failing to comply with an exclusion direction.
In footage obtained by Channel 7, Mitchell can be heard crying out "my shoulders" as he is being held on the ground by police officers. On Monday, both players released a joint statement through their manager Matt Rose.
The NRL superstars admitted that their decision to engage in what they described as a "harmless" wrestling match with one another was a "poor decision". In handing down their apologies, the good mates accepted that they put themselves in a position to "embarrass" themselves, their respective clubs and the NRL.
NRL stars Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton have just been cleared to play in this weekend's Indigenous All-Stars match in New Zealand after both players were charged over a scuffle outside a Canberra nightclub on Sunday. @hayleyefrancis #9News
MORE: https://t.co/EEvRWiQ1Tj pic.twitter.com/Od1gqmXOkI
— 9News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) February 6, 2023
"We wanted to express remorse for putting ourselves in the position to embarrass our clubs and the NRL over the weekend," the statement said. "We were there to celebrate Jack's 30th with family and friends.
"While everyone enjoyed a great night, we understand that our wrestle, as harmless as we believed it to be, was a poor decision and may have looked bad. We are sorry for this, and know that we need to be better when in public.
"We remain great friends, and are looking forward to proudly representing our community at All Stars this weekend."
The pair, who are close friends from their time in NSW and Australia camps, are due to attend the ACT Magistrates Court on February 22, just eight days before the NRL season begins on March 2. The alleged offences do not meet the threshold of the NRL's no-fault stand-down policy, meaning they are not expected to be sidelined while it is still a court matter.
The NRL has stopped short of banning the players after announcing it is awaiting the outcome from criminal proceedings, meaning the pair are clear to play this weekend. This year's All Stars fixture is the first to be held in New Zealand, with Mitchell hoping to don the Indigenous jersey alongside his brother Shaquai for the first time.
Latrell Mitchell, Jack Wighton regretful over alleged incident
The Daily Telegraph's Phil Rothfield says he has spoken to Mitchell's club South Sydney, and his manager, and that both players are reportedly "dirty" at themselves over the alleged incident. Rothfield said the players were expected to show remorse when they face court later this month.
“I have spoken to Souths and (Mitchell’s manager) Matt Rose about this and whether there will be some sort of complaint lodged with the ACT Police or when the two boys go to court in a fortnight’s time,” Rothfield told Sky Sports Radio. “They both told me that Jack and Latrell will more likely be showing remorse when they turn up in court.
“They understand they’ve brought untimely and embarrassing headlines to rugby league on the eve of the season, and they are dirty on themselves for putting themselves in that position. That’s not to say, and there were so many eyewitnesses I saw on the Channel 7 report last night, including the manager of the hotel, who were critical of the way police handled it.
“I can tell you — this could have been so much worse, there’s about four police who have Latrell on the ground, he is yelling out ‘my shoulder, my shoulder’. Well that was while they were trying to handcuff him, it was so serious South Sydney’s club doctor had to visit Latrell at his home last night just to check it was okay.
“He thinks it is, they are pretty confident it isn’t going to stop him from playing for the All Stars this weekend if he does make the trip to New Zealand. They are convinced it won’t stop him from playing Round 1 of the competition, however physios will be monitoring it and if it does get worse, he’ll have to get scans.”
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