BEN Flower is not the first sports person to lose their head on the big stage but his may certainly last longer in the memory.
Flower’s name will now rank alongside that of Zinedine Zidane, Mike Tyson and Luis Suarez.
It is difficult to know what goes through the mind of professional athletes when they commit such outrageous acts of indiscipline.
Yes he was provoked and yes he was always likely to react but what followed was quite frankly appalling.
Let’s be honest – it is not just ‘one of those things’ that happen in ‘the heat of the moment’ – the second punch thrown while Lance Hohaia was unconscious was one of the most shocking things I’ve seen anywhere.
If somebody committed the same act Flower did on King Street of a Friday evening, you’d get... well at least a £35 fine (but that debate is for another day)!
The point is it isn’t acceptable in any way shape of form and nobody should try to defend it or absolve blame.
We will never know how the game would have panned out if Flower had kept his head but there is no doubt Wigan would have had a far greater chance of winning.
Just as when Zidane inexplicably head-butted Marco Materazzi while France were well on top in the World Cup final, Flower let his whole team down and that is far harder to forgive.
When Mike Tyson decided to nibble on Evander Holyfield’s ear he let himself down. He was losing comfortbaly and had no answer and that is when he lost his head. His career never recovered from it.
However, where Ben Flower is concerned the words of his coach and team-mates would still have been ringing fresh in his ears only moments into the match.
Hopefully Ben Flower can come back and redeem himself through the quality of his rugby (which isn’t in question) but he has a long way to go on that front.
All that said, his Wigan team-mates put up a fantastic fight and were arguably the best team on the night.
It will be hard for them to take that loss but hopefully they will come back all the stronger for it next year.