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Raider Wighton not guilty at NRL judiciary

AAP logoAAP 6/09/2016 By James MacSmith

An elated Jack Wighton is free to play in Canberra's qualifying final after being found not guilty of a shoulder charge.

The NRL judiciary panel of Sean Garlick, Royce Ayliffe and Mal Cochrane took just five minutes to find Wighton not guilty of the grade-two shoulder charge on Wests Tigers forward Joel Edwards.

Wighton faced a four-match ban if found guilty on Tuesday night at Rugby League Central.

"It was good to get the result. I can't wait to get out on the park on the weekend. I was always confident. I always had faith," Wighton said.

"It was just one of those tackles that looked worse than what it was.

"It has been a long day, a rough start to the week and it is good to get it over with.

"I am just really excited about the weekend."

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said it was a verdict star fullback Wighton deserved.

"I am really happy with the hearing and for the team and for Jack," Stuart said.

"He has been pretty settled and confident for two days. He has handled himself really well because he has put so much into the season."

Stuart admitted the case had been a distraction for his team.

"I wanted to do some stuff with the team this afternoon and we had to postpone it," he said.

"We haven't had a session this week. But we will get through it. It is a challenge. It is not going to be anything but another hurdle we have to overcome."

In arguing his case, judiciary prosecutor Peter McGrath conceded the first point of contact between Wighton and Edwards was their forearms but said that didn't matter.

"It was a classic shoulder charge that player Wighton was at least careless in the way he effected it," McGrath said.

"The upper arm was tucked and forced against his side.

"There was forceful contact. He made no attempt to make a conventional tackle."

Wighton's defence counsel Nick Ghabar argued the tackle in the Raiders win over the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday was "more a collision than a charge".

"Player Wighton has gone in rather clumsily," he said.

"But he did not have his upper arm or shoulder tucked into his side.

"The arm was never braced and he followed through with a pushing-type motion."

A small group of Raiders fans celebrated outside League Central after the verdict was read out.

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