GARETH Hock’s season is over.
The prop – who only returned to action in the summer after a two-year doping ban – will not play for Wigan again until 2012, after being handed a five-match ban last night.
He was hit with the punishment after being found guilty of gouging and punching Ben Harrison in the closing minutes of Sunday’s 39-12 loss at Warrington.
The grade E offence of gouging carries a suspension of between four and eight matches, and the Rugby Football League’s disciplinary commission imposed the minimum punishment.
He also received a one-match ban for punching.
It means he will play no further part in the Warriors’ Super League title defence. Wigan wrap up their campaign against Crusaders on Friday and then face two or three play-off matches before the Grand Final, should they reach Old Trafford.
Head coach Michael Maguire said Wigan “don’t condone that sort of thing”.
Last night there was no suggestion the club planned to appeal the guilty verdicts.
Hock, who was banned for five matches in 2008 for grabbing a referee’s arm, was also fined £300.
The only way Hock will play again this year is if Steve McNamara selects him for England duty for this autumn’s Four Nations series against Australia, New Zealand and Wales.
He was not in the latest batch of players drafted into the elite training squad recently, and the fact he didn’t make Warriors’ Challenge Cup final side does not work in his favour. But the former Great Britain star has displayed some signs that he has been getting back to his destructive best, showing an ability to scatter defenders with his strong charges and trouble opponents with his offloads. He sparked Wigan into life when he came off the bench against the Wolves, before his controversial finish to the match.