"I’ve done my time, done my punishments, they’re all out of the road and I'm ready to roll".
Ahead of Sunday's opening-round clash with Gold Coast, which also marks his much-anticipated, season-proper return to five-eighth, Jack Wighton admitted he knows he's on his last chance and has vowed to take it with both hands.
The Orange product feared his career was over after his drunken assault of five men was captured on CCTV footage during a night out in Civic in February 2018, a blunder that led to him being suspended and missing the back end of last season.
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But with "a new outlook on life and on the game" Wighton pledged not to repeat his mistakes, with the ARL Commission also taking a hardline stance following a horror off-season.
"From what’s been going on, looking from the outside, there’s going to be some big changes in the game. It's a 'pull your head in big time' warning for everyone in the game," Wighton said.
"I definitely found a new outlook on life and on the game [during my suspension]. It just showed me how much I do love the game.
"I’m getting older now, I’ve got to take every chance I get, take it with both hands and really run with it. No more blunders, it’s all got to be now or nothing, that’s the way I feel about everything now.
"I fell well short of the finals with the stuff off the field, so it’s been a long time off the paddock. I’m very keen to get back on and just play some footy, and feel like an athlete again.
"I’ve done my time, done my punishments, they’re all out of the road and I'm ready to roll. I’m ready to go, no more thinking about it, it’s all over now."
Wighton lines up at five-eighth on Sunday for a Raiders side boasting a handful of new faces and while flying Kiwi winger Jordan Rapana remains sidelined, co-captain Josh Hodgson says his troops are ready.
"If you're not ready now you never will be after three months of pre-season," he said.
"We're all good and ready to go. Everyone's just really excited for the year to be back again, it's been a long old off-season."
The Raiders take on the Gold Coast at Robina Stadium from 7.30pm on Sunday night.
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