Flower banned for crunch Cup showdown

Willie Isa and Ben Flower in action at Widnes

Willie Isa and Ben Flower in action at Widnes

Ben Flower has been slapped with a one-game ban.

The Welshman - arguably Wigan’s best prop - will miss Saturday’s crucial Challenge Cup quarter-final with Castleford.

He was found guilty of a ‘dangerous throw’ on Widnes’ Aaron Heremaia late in Thursday’s 7-0 win.

An early guilty plea would have resulted in a two-game ban, the minimum suggested punishment for a grade C offence - the maximum is three matches.

But Shaun Wane decided to contest the charge.

Heremaia - the ‘victim’ of the dangerous throw - is thought to have given the disciplinary hearing a statement in defence of Flower.

While Wane didn’t manage to persuade the RFL disciplinary panel to let the 28-year-old off, his charge was downgraded to a grade B, and consequently his ban was only one match.

He will be free to return to action for the following week’s trip to Catalans in Super League.

But his absence from the side this weekend will be a blow, especially as Wane is already missing prop Tony Clubb following a neck injury.

And his stockpile has been further stretched as two middles - Willie Isa and Ryan Sutton - have been playing at second-row to cover for the absent Liam Farrell (injury) and John Bateman (club suspension).

But on the plus side, his options will be bolstered by the likely return of Sean O’Loughlin from injury.

And Joel Tomkins, who has been operating in the middle recently as he nurses a knee injury, is also set to play again after being rested last week.