Flower to find out fate

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REMORSEFUL Ben Flower will discover tonight (Tuesday) what punishment he faces for his Grand Final brain-snap.

The Welsh prop could face a ban of more than eight games for punching St Helens’ Lance Hohaia, which saw him red-carded in the second minute.

Wigan Warriors Ben Flower fights with St Helens Paul Wellens (left)  before being given a red card during the First Utility Super League Grand Final match at Old Trafford

Wigan Warriors Ben Flower fights with St Helens Paul Wellens (left) before being given a red card during the First Utility Super League Grand Final match at Old Trafford

Saints went on to win Saturday night’s decider 14-6 in front of more than 70,000 fans at Old Trafford.

Flower yesterday issued an unreserved apology to Hohaia, which was accepted.

Team-mates stuck by the repentant Welshman.

Scrum-half Matty Smith said: “He just lost his head - we’ll all be behind him. He’s a great lad and will come back stronger.”

Forward Joel Tomkins added: “Now we’ve lost, he will be made a bit of a scapegoat by some - but from the players and coaches it won’t be.”

Hohaia, who played no further part, admitted he held “no regrets” against Flower but that is unlikely to spare him further punishment. The Rugby Football League’s match review panel will almost certainly refer the incident to the independent judiciary, which meet today.

Given Hohaia was hit while appearing to be unconscious on the ground, Flower may be charged with ‘punching an opponent off guard’.

Under the RFL guidelines, that can be a grade E or grade F offence, depending on the severity. The suggested punishment for a grade E offence is a ban of four to eight weeks, while grade F - the most serious charge - can be eight or more weeks, or a specified time period.

The 26-year-old had already made himself unavailable for Wales’ autumn internationals, so those games won’t count towards any suspension.

In Flower’s potential favour, remorse, provocation and previous record are considered mitigating factors which will be considered before a punishment is handed out.

Fans will be intrigued to discover if Hohaia faces punishment for his initial challenge on Flower, which prompted his retaliation.

But the prop - who had been in great form for the Warriors - offered no excuses.

“There is no defence for my actions,” he said in a statement.

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

The high-profile incident was still trending on Twitter yesterday, with some suggesting Flower should face criminal action.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said the force will be liaising with the RFL, St Helens, and the Crown Prosecution Service “before a decision is made on what course of action is to be taken”.

Wigan’s loss denied them a place in the World Club Challenge - and a head-to-head against former coach Michael Maguire’s Souths.

But they will still tackle NRL opposition as part of the three-game World Club Series.

Warriors are due to take on Brisbane on Saturday February 21, the same day Latics host Charlton at the DW Stadium.

It has not been announced whether Wigan will play elsewhere, if the WCS order will be changed, or whether Latics will be asked to put their game back.