Jack Wighton’s NRL season could be over with the Canberra fullback sensationally cited for a shoulder charge.
Wighton has been slapped with a grade two citation by the match review committee for his hit on Joel Edwards in the Raiders’ final round 52-10 win over Wests Tigers on Sunday.
The star fullback faces a ban of up to four matches if found guilty.
If he chooses an early guilty plea he will miss three games.
The NRL took the unusual move of explaining their reasoning when issuing Monday’s charge sheet after Cronulla hooker Michael Ennis avoided a ban for an apparently similar tackle.
“We look for three key indicators when determining whether a shoulder charge has been made,” match review committee co-ordinator Michael Buettner said.
1. The upper arm of the defender must be tucked in to his side at contact
2. The defender is making no attempt to wrap in the tackle with both arms
3. There is forceful contact by the defender to any part of the body of the attacking player.
“If all three of these indicators are clearly identified in an incident then a player will be charged with a shoulder charge.”
Canberra declined to comment when contacted by AAP.
However it is expected they will challenge the charge at the judiciary this week ahead of Saturday night’s qualifying final against Cronulla.
Wighton’s charge carries significant loading because he has two prior offences in the past two years.
Wighton was put on report for the hit on Edwards but in Sunday’s post-match press conference Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said he was not concerned, considering Ennis was let off.
“I’m not worried after I heard Michael Ennis got off,” he said.
“But I’m glad Michael Ennis got off, because I don’t think there has been enough of a common sense approach in these collisions.
“Jack said he hit Edwards with his head, so I am not concerned.”
Raiders captain Jarrod Croker added: “It was a head clash, Jack had his hands up. I am sure he will be fine.”
However Buettner said ” there was a clear difference in the tackle performed by Sharks hooker Michael Ennis who was not charged and the Wighton tackle”.
“In the case of Michael Ennis, it’s very clear that the left arm of Ennis is away from his body and not tucked into his side.
“So no charge was laid.”