Wighton rules out reversing State of Origin retirement

Jasper Bruce |

South Sydney’s Jack Wighton (left) won’t be coming out of State of Origin retirement.
South Sydney’s Jack Wighton (left) won’t be coming out of State of Origin retirement.

Jack Wighton has no interest in coming out of State of Origin retirement amid a NSW injury crisis, pledging his focus to last-placed South Sydney instead.

The call is the latest in a series of blows for first-year Blues coach Michael Maguire, who has lost likely Origin I starters Nathan Cleary, Cam Murray and Tom Trbojevic to injury this month.

Wighton, 31, could have been an enticing selection option for the series opener on June 5 given his ability to play in the centres, halves or as a bench utility.

The Blues’ halves situation is in disarray, with Cleary’s would-be replacement Mitch Moses racing the clock to recover from a foot fracture, and Nicho Hynes missing round 10 of the NRL with a calf issue.

As a bench utility, Wighton could have helped the Blues avoid a repeat of last year’s centre calamities when Hynes and Damien Cook were forced into the position after mid-game injuries and were then targeted.

Maguire said in February he would to keeping the door open for Wighton, but the Souths recruit on Tuesday ruled out any possible return.

“There’s plenty of young kids that do the Blues proud and do a great job there, so I’ll sit in my position of staying retired and leave it up to them young fellas to fly the flag,” Wighton said.

“I’ve been trying to really put a focus on keeping my body together for Souths. As everyone knows, we’re in a bit of a rut.”

Wighton shone on the Origin stage across a 10-game career that ended with his shock representative retirement only weeks out from last year’s series opener.

He confirmed Maguire had approached him earlier in the season about a possible Origin return.

The 31-year-old admitted it was hard to say no to Maguire, an assistant coach at Canberra during Wighton’s last season there.

“It’s a big call, but I’ve got nothing to prove. I believe it’s in safe hands with the young kids there. That’s the way I’m looking at it,” Wighton said.

As good mate and fellow Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell reportedly weighs up making the same call, Wighton said it was the right thing to do to focus on performing for Souths.

“That’s all I want to do,” he said.

“Something I’ve taken really personally is self-accountability. I’m never looking outside of what I can do and how I can be better and where I’m letting the boys down in any way.”