NRL stars Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton have reportedly spent the night in jail after being been arrested and charged for allegedly fighting outside a Canberra nightclub early on Sunday morning.
A week before the two players were due to line up together for the NRL’s showpiece Indigenous vs Maori All Stars clash, the close friends were out celebrating Wighton’s 30th birthday when the alleged incident occurred.
Witnesses saw the pair allegedly clash in the Canberra CBD outside a club on Bunda St at 3.45am and rang police.
ACT Police subsequently charged Canberra five-eighth Wighton, 30, with fighting in a public place and failing to comply with an exclusion direction. South Sydney fullback Mitchell, 25, was charged with resisting territory public official along with fighting in a public place and failing to comply with an exclusion direction.
Earlier in the night Mitchell posted a photo to Instagram of himself with Wighton, both wearing cowboy hats, as they celebrated the birthday before the alleged fight broke out, accompanied by the caption ‘Happy birthday my brother 30th’ with a brown love heart emoji. Wighton later re-posted it on his Instagram page.
But something allegedly went awry between the Australian Kangaroos teammates in the hours afterward and, according to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, both men reportedly spent the night in jail.
ACT Police confirmed the duo’s arrests and charges on Sunday.
“About 3.45am today ACT Policing responded to reports of a disturbance near a nightclub on Bunda Street in the city,” the statement read.
“Two men - a 30-year-old from Bywong, NSW and a 25-year old man from Chifley, NSW - were arrested at the scene.
“The 30-year-old has been charged with fight in a public place and fail to comply with an exclusion direction, while the 25-year-old has been charged with fight in a public place, affray and resist territory public official.
“They are expected to face the ACR Magistrates Court at a later date.”
The NRL Integrity Unit will investigate the matter. In a statement, an NRL spokesperson said: “The NRL Integrity Unit has been made aware of this matter and is liaising with the Rabbitohs and Raiders clubs.”
Both the Canberra Raiders and South Sydney clubs released statements confirming knowledge of the incident and having reporting it to the NRL Integrity Unit.
“The South Sydney Rabbitohs are aware of an alleged incident involving Latrell Mitchell this morning in Canberra,” said the statement from Rabbitohs headquarters. “The Rabbitohs have informed the NRL Integrity Unit about the alleged incident (and) will be making no further comment at this stage.”
The incident is an ugly curtain-raiser to the popular Indigenous vs Maori All Stars clash in Rotorua, New Zealand on February 11. But as of Sunday afternoon, Mitchell and Wighton were still in the NRL’s updated team lists for the Indigenous All Stars side. The squad has been in camp in Sydney and will fly to New Zealand on Monday.
Mitchell and Wighton have been good friends for years, playing alongside each other for the Indigenous All Stars side, NSW and the national side, most recently at last November’s Rugby League World Cup.
The two are scheduled to face ACT Magistrates Court on February 22, a week before the NRL season starts on March 2.