Monday Buzz: A $250k ‘reward’ for an assault
Jack Wighton will earn around $250,000 from the Canberra Raiders while he is serving a 10-week suspension in the run home to the finals.
Not a bad reward for assaulting three men on the streets of our national capital.
The Canberra Raiders fullback is on around $750,000 a year.
Rugby league has been taken away from him but the people being penalised are the Raiders' members, the fans, the sponsors, the TV networks and the entire game.
Having a highly competitive Canberra Raiders side in the run home to the finals would add so much interest and excitement to the competition.
Their magnificent win over the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night has kept the finals race open for another week.
They would be a much better chance of making the playoffs if Wighton was playing. Which brings us to the point of this column.
Why are we all being penalised for his acts of madness on a night out in Canberra during the off-season. It's wrong.
Surely it's time for the NRL to come down hard with serious financial penalties rather than long suspensions which allow offenders to just sit back and collect their big money for doing nothing.
Fining Wighton $250,000 would be far more effective than a 10-week ban.
Bring in a new rule that players guilty of off-field misbehaviour will be fined their weekly salary instead of being stood down.
That way the offender gets punished, not all of us. Imagine getting 10 weeks off on full pay. Where is the deterrent to footballers?
This is something that would have to be negotiated with the Rugby League Players' Association.
Surely they would come on board if it was a more severe outcome for the very few ratbags who continue to bring the game into disrepute.
The Canberra Raiders are, in my opinion, the most exciting team to watch in the NRL.
They have errors in their game but play the most beautiful and breathtaking style of footy.
Big and powerful down the middle, the most incredibly skilled outside backs, and a side that plays more exhilarating ad lib football than any other club.
This competition needs them to challenge for the finals. The Wighton issue is not the club's fault. It can't monitor every player 24/7.
We lose enough stars each year to injuries without having to lose stars for bad behaviour for such a long period of time.
The Raiders would be a much better hope of making it to the top eight if Wighton was playing.
The NRL, having seen video of the assault, banned him for 10 weeks and threw in a $30,000 fine. Thirty miserable thousand. A lot of money for most of us but about eight days pay for the Canberra fullback.
The average annual wage in Australia is now $78,832. That would be the amount a lot of rugby league fans are earning.
They pay for their season membership, weekly tickets, merchandise and Foxtel subscriptions to see the best players. Surely the fines system is something the NRL should consider.
Losing your livelihood is more painful than missing footy games. It's not fair that we are all losing out for one player's poor behaviour.
Footnote: The fine system is not for domestic violence incidents for which players should have their contracts torn up.