NRL stars apologise after arrests ahead of New Zealand game

Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton shared a laugh – and even joked about cuddling each other for the TV cameras – as they left the Indigenous All Stars team bus together on Monday.

The two NRL stars arrived at Sydney Airport just after 7am for a flight to New Zealand, where they hope they can still take part in this weekend’s clash against the Māori All Stars.

Mitchell, 25, and Wighton, 30, were arrested in the early hours of Sunday following a public skirmish on the streets of Canberra.

“We apologise for what happened in Canberra and take full responsibility for our actions,” the pair said in a joint-statement to the Daily Telegraph. “We’re not in a position to comment on exactly what happened because it is the subject of an upcoming court case. Both of us understand that it is not a good look for the game at that time of night.

“We regret that it’s happened and hopefully can move on once the legal process has been completed. It was originally a bit of fun that got out of hand.”

Neither player had markings on their face on Monday, and Mitchell showed no signs of shoulder pain after being pinned to the ground by four police officers.

The pair left jail to have breakfast together, made their way to Sydney separately at lunchtime on Sunday, and were given a warm reception when they entered a group meeting at the Indigenous team’s Sydney hotel just after 9pm on Sunday.

“They’re both good, they walked in last night together, and the love they felt in the room was exactly what they needed to fill their cup up again,” Indigenous All Stars coach Ronnie Griffiths told the Herald.

“One of our elders, Edward Monaei, who is from the Torres Strait, when the two boys came in and all the staff were there, he stood up in front of everyone and said, ‘Our circle is now complete’.

“[Latrell’s] all good, he saw the Souths doctor on Sunday. All the players needed to have a medical before they came into camp.

“Both boys are on this trip to build up the other boys culturally and spiritually, but the end goal is they are also over there to play.

“I know there would be no prouder moment for Latrell and his brother Shaquai to play over there together.

“Latrell is a world-class player. Everyone is looking forward to going over to New Zealand to develop the game, and he’s certainly a drawcard.”

Mitchell and Wighton did not speak to the media, but there appeared to be no lingering issues between them as they stood next to each other at check-in and shared a laugh.

Griffiths is confident the controversy will not derail All Stars week. A suspension for Mitchell and Wighton would be a huge blow for the All Stars game, which suffered several withdrawals over the weekend. Mitchell missed last year’s game due to suspension.