TALKING SPORT - The punch and cruelty of Flower’s act

Phil Wilkinson
Phil Wilkinson

I CAN’T believe Ben Flower got off so lightly.

He should have been publicly stoned to death! Dragged to Cardiff to be hung, drawn and quartered!!

Or given a one-way ticket to Strangeways nick, or hell, or somewhere much worse!!!

Actually, that’s not true.

Let’s make it clear: Flower’s second punch can not be defended. He deserves to be severely punished. He inevitably made headlines around the world, in media which would never normally dream of covering rugby league (sadly, that includes many newspapers in this country).

It was dramatic footage of a brutal incident ... which is why it was shown on TV in Mexico, Colombia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada.

In the USA, the Fox website even filed the story under its Mixed Martial Arts section!

But the longer it went, the longer it seemed like the only way some people could keep the story running was to conjure up stricter, more ludicrous punishments.

A season-long ban. A life-time ban. Criminal charges.

Please.

A season-long ban would include around 35 games – which would be out of whack with past similar offences.

A year ago, Ben Westwood swung a fist in a Grand Final – which caused more damage and was unprovoked. He received a one-game ban.

Yes, Flower’s strike was worse. Much worse.

But was it really 35 times worse?

As for Flower, he’s handled the crisis as well as he can by offering an apology. I dare suggest any ban will pale in comparison to the feeling of knowing he probably cost his team a Grand Final triumph.

He’ll have to live with that.

St Helens may disagree, but deep down, I imagine they know that Wigan are the better team. With 13 players, the Warriors would surely have had too much for an injury-hit Saints side.

And that’s why this loss will haunt Wigan for a long time.

But the disappointment will fade, and once it does I think most people will regard Wigan’s campaign as a qualified success.

Shaun Wane spoke of his confidence that his team will come back stronger.

It wasn’t just a cliche to pacify the fans and make himself feel better.

He backed it up with facts and figures. Like the age of his players, many of whom gained valuable experience. And like the lack of turnover, which should make for a smoother transition than a year ago.

ON Saturday morning, the papers were filled with pictures of England’s Wayne Rooney looking to the heavens after he scored a goal against San Marino.

Which has a population of about 30,000. Not much more than Standish. Well done, Wayne. Well done.

THIS weekend sees Latics take on Brentford, with Uwe Rosler and Adam Forshaw sure to be central figures.

While it’s always nice to put one over your old club, the three points are of far more importance for Latics.