Wigan Warriors’ Ben Flower faces lengthy ban for Grand Final double punch shame

Disgraced Wigan Warriors prop Ben Flower has been hit with a Grade F offence charge for his vicious attack on Lance Hohaia in Saturday’s Grand Final.

The Rugby Football League (RFL) announced the decision on Monday afternoon following Flower’s dismissal – the first ever red card in Grand Final history.

Wigan took on fierce local rivals St Helens in the Old Trafford showpiece, but were down to 12 men when Flower inexcusably punched Saints’ player Hohaia twice in the second minute of play.

A Grade F offence is the most serious charge that the RFL can administer – and board chiefs are expected to hand Flower a lengthy ban.

Despite the early setback, Wigan more than played their part in a thrilling encounter that the Saints eventually won 14-6.

Flower, 26, has issued an extensive and unreserved apology on Warriors’ official site on Sunday evening, admitting that he had cost his side.

“I’d like to say sorry to my teammates, our fans and the Wigan Club,” the 17-times Wales international said.

“I know I’ve let them down like never before and accept I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my career.

“I offer my apologies to Lance [Hohaia] – I have full respect for him and have never gone onto a rugby field to injure a fellow player – I hope he is ok.

“Finally, I’m sorry to the sport of Rugby League. It was a big night and I know I’ve taken the attention away from what was a special event.

“I am so sorry for what happened.

“There is no defence for my actions. It was something that happened in the heat of the moment when our emotions and adrenaline were running high.

“I instantly regretted it and am devastated that I allowed myself to punch someone like this.

“At Wigan, we are known for being aggressive but we are constantly told to do this within the rules of the game and that punching isn’t tough.

“We may aim to dominate teams, but we don’t aim to hurt people.”

Shaun Wane’s men more than matched the Saints, with Liam Farrell – who didn’t miss a single tackle throughout the match – in inspired form.

Although the Warriors took the lead in the first-half, Nathan Brown’s team fought back to claim a prize they last won in 2006 – a fitting send-off for the outgoing St Helens coach.

The Saints had appeared in the previous five Grand Finals before Saturday’s, but had lost them all.

Wigan chairman and owner Ian Lenagan also had his say in a joint-statement with head-coach Wane.

“We apologise unreservedly on behalf of the Wigan club to Lance Hohaia, St Helens and the general rugby league family for Ben Flower’s totally inappropriate behaviour in the Grand Final,” they added.

“Rugby league is a tough sport, which we are proud of, but such a response is neither encouraged nor condoned.

“Such behaviour is not representative of rugby league nor Wigan Warriors.”

Image courtesy of Sky Sports via YouTube with thanks

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