WIGAN prop Ben Flower has issued a public apology for his horror punch on St Helens player Lance Hohaia in the Super League Grand Final.
The Welshman offered no excuses for the incident in the second minute which saw him strike the half-back twice – one while he lay on the deck after the initial hit – and given a red card.
Flower apologised to Hohaia, his team-mates, Wigan fans and to the sport of rugby league as a whole.
“I am so sorry for what happened last night,” he said in a statement issued by Wigan. “There is no defence for my actions.
“It is something that happened in the heat of the moment. I instantly regretted it and am devastated that I allowed myself to punch someone like this.
“At Wigan we may aim to dominate teams, but we don’t aim to hurt people. I firstly offer my apologies to Lance. I hope he is OK.
“I’d also like to say sorry to my team-mates, our fans and the Wigan club. I accept I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my career.
“Finally, I’m sorry to the sport of rugby league. It was a big night and I know I’ve taken attention away from a special event.”
In his post-match press conference, Wigan coach Shaun Wane wouldn’t defend his player’s actions but said the club would stick by him with any punishment he is issued with by the RFL.
He also added that it was unlikely that the Warriors would take internal action against Flower.
Wane has also released a brief statement this morning with Wigan chairman Ian Lenegan.
They said: “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 last night’s Grand Final.
“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 the Wigan club.”
It remains to be seen what punishment Flower will face as he prepares to sit before the game’s disciplinary panel on Tuesday.
It’s expected that the incident will be rated as a grade F, the sport’s most serious grading, which carries a suspension of up eight matches or more.