Family vibes: Wighton joined Rabbitohs because he ‘saw they cared’ | The Sporting Base

Family vibes: Wighton joined Rabbitohs because he ‘saw they cared’

January 22, 2024

Family vibes: Wighton joined Rabbitohs because he ‘saw they cared’

Jack Wighton has finally found a club that made him want to break his Sydney promise, with the 242-game Raider once believing he would “never live in Sydney”—until he sat down with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

“I said I’d never live in Sydney but this is the team that made me do it,” the bonafide NRL superstar admitted after he started training with the Rabbitohs earlier this week.

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While Wighton never really fell out of love with the Canberra Raiders, where he’s been playing top-flight footy since his debut in 2012, he slowly began to realise he wanted to try things away from the ‘Green Machine.’ That meant knocking back a $4.4 million extension that would have run through to 2027. The decision blindsided much of the rugby league world once it was announced in April last year, including Wighton, who admitted he still doesn’t quite have the answers.

“It was one of those ones that I can’t really explain,” he said.

“I’ve got a lot of love for where I was and the people there so to make a change it was just a personal thing. I really needed a change in my life and for my family at the time so we ended up biting the bullet.”

After he’d told Ricky Stuart and the Raiders brass that he was going to be looking for other opportunities, Wighton began talks with Souths. He parlayed with Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou and club chief executive Blake Solly and after several talks throughout 2023, he made his mind up.

“I went and had a meeting with Souths, I met with ‘JD’ and Blake and I just saw they cared. They’re a family-orientated club, they care about their players and I thought if I am going to make the plunge this is the club I want to do it at. Me and my wife both said we’re big on our family and we felt the family vibes straight away,” Wighton explained.

“It helps that I’ve played with a few of the boys in rep teams and I’ve got a good understanding of how they run and operate their lives. I like the way they roll so that helped too.”

The swap means Wighton is now in preseason training with an NRL club that isn’t the Raiders for the first time ever. The 30-year-old, who will be playing centre in the famed cardinal and myrtle, said he has one thing on his mind: prove to everyone who doubted his decision that it was the right one for his game as much as his headspace.

“I’m trying not to think too much into it, I’m just enjoying the process,” he said. “It’s a first (changing clubs) so I’m just soaking everything up and taking one day at a time with training. I’ll do the same approach once we get to games. I’m going to have my highs and lows as you do every year so just enjoy every bit of it.”

“I just want to put my best foot forward for the boys, build their trust and hopefully in some ways my experience can pay off in areas,” he added.

“I love proving people wrong—that gets me out of bed. I live every day with that feeling.”

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