Jack Wighton has turned down the richest deal in Raiders history to hunt an NRL premiership with South Sydney. How Wighton broke the news to his Canberra teammates.
Jack Wighton is going to be a Rabbitoh.
The Australian and NSW star has rejected big-money offers from Canberra and the Dolphins to join Latrell Mitchell at South Sydney.
By doing so he will forgo more lucrative offers in order to relocate to Sydney.
An emotional Wighton messaged his Raiders teammates on Tuesday that he had made the decision to leave Canberra after 14 seasons.
The Canberra five-eighth reiterated his commitment to his teammates to finish out the season, and his time with the Raiders, in the most successful way possible.
The Raiders put forward the richest deal and were confident of retaining Wighton on a $4.4 million package worth $1.1m annually, but instead he will switch clubs and positions.
He will be a centre at South Sydney where he will work with the likes of Mitchell, Cody Walker, Alex Johnston and Campbell Graham in a star-studded backline.
A Dally M and Clive Churchill medallist with the Raiders, Wighton’s decision comes as a major blow to Canberra.
However, Wighton’s impending departure will create a huge amount of salary cap space for the Raiders to target a marquee player.
They effectively have more than $1 million in their cap for next season to lure a big name to the nation’s capital.
The Raiders will now be on the lookout for a partner for Jamal Fogarty. They have young half Brad Schneider on the books but he is also off-contract at the end of the season.
The Rabbitohs are adamant they won’t have to shed players to accommodate Wighton in 2024. He will join the club on a four-year deal. It is likely his first two seasons will be worth about $750,000 a year, but that will be upgraded in 2026 and 2027.
By then the Rabbitohs may have Damien Cook and/or Cody Walker retire.
The 30-year-old has been in the headlines in recent days. First he retired he declared he would test the open market and then he retired from representative football.
The Rabbitohs’ deal was the lesser of the three offers. On Friday afternoon he met with South Sydney officials, including coach Jason Demetriou, chief executive Blake Solly and head of football Mark Ellison at the club’s new headquarters at Heffron Park, Maroubra.
That comes after having breakfast with Mitchell on Friday morning.
South Sydney are yet to be formally told of Wighton’s decision but that will be become a formality in the next few days.
Wighton wanted to make a decision before the Raiders played their next game which comes against the Dolphins on Saturday. The Dolphins’ deal was worth just less than $1 million a season.
Dolphins super coach Wayne Bennett made an 11th-hour pitch to Wighton in a bid to ambush South Sydney and poach the NSW Origin ace from the Raiders on Sunday night.
But it wasn’t enough. In his meeting with potential suitors, Wighton made it clear he wanted to win a premiership before he retired.
Wighton has played more than 200 games for the Raiders since making his debut back in 2012.
Originally published as NRL 2023: Jack Wighton joins South Sydney on four-year deal
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