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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Guardian sport

NRL’s Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton apologise after arrests for clash outside Canberra club

Latrell Mitchell (L) and Jack Wighton (R) in rugby gear on the field in 2021
Latrell Mitchell (L) and Jack Wighton (R) in 2021. The two have apologised after being arrested following an early-morning Canberra scuffle the pair insist was ‘harmless’. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/Rex/Shutterstock

Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton have apologised for “embarrassing” their clubs after the NRL players were arrested and charged for allegedly fighting outside a Canberra nightclub early on Sunday morning.

South Sydney Rabbitohs fullback Mitchell and Canberra Raiders five-eighth Wighton issued a joint statement on Monday as the pair departed for All Stars camp in New Zealand, addressing the “harmless” scuffle at Wighton’s 30th birthday celebrations at the weekend.

“For legal reasons we cannot comment on the charges that are before the court at the moment,” the statement read. “However we wanted to express remorse for putting ourselves in the position to embarrass our clubs and the NRL over the weekend.

“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 incident came a week out from the pre-season Indigenous v Māori All Stars clash, which takes place in Rotorua on Saturday. The alleged offences do not meet the threshold for NRL’s no-fault stand-down policy, and both players have been cleared to line up in the showpiece match.

“Both Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton remain available to participate in the 2023 All Stars match this Saturday in Rotorua,” the NRL said in a statement. “The NRL will await the conclusion of the criminal proceedings before finalising its process, and determining any applicable sanction.”

Witnesses saw the two players allegedly clash in the Canberra CBD outside a club on Bunda St at 3.45am and rang police.

ACT police subsequently charged Wighton with fighting in a public place and failing to comply with an exclusion direction. Mitchell was charged with resisting territory public official along with fighting in a public place and failing to comply with an exclusion direction.

The NRL’s integrity unit is investigating the matter and liaising with the Rabbitohs and Raiders.

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