WIGAN Warriors prop Ben Flower admits he felt “hated“ after being sent off in the Super League Grand Final.
He was handed a six-month ban - and fined by his club - for punching St Helens’ Lance Hohaia in last October’s title-decider.
The 27-year-old issued an apology hours after the incident, and followed that up in a television interview today by expressing his remorse over the “disgrafeful” incident.
Flower said: “Knowing how much I was hated by everybody, that was hard to take in, knowing you’re trending on Twitter as the most hated person at the time.
“It was a hard time, not just for me, but for my family.”
Recalling the incident early in the game, he continued: “I remember being hit by the side (by Hohaia), and the frustration of knocking the ball on and being hit... it made me react in a way I’ve never done before.
“The hype of the game was so intense, I naturally turned around and I’ve thrown a punch and sort of gone in with the second.
“I can remember doing it, but not why I was doing it.
“I was devastated. It hit home what I’d done wrong.
“Letting my team-mates down, that was the hardest part.”
The Wales international will miss 10 league matches and the World Club Series contest against Brisbane Broncos before being able to resume his Wigan career from April 16 - and a potential clash against Warrington.
He thanked St Helens for their support, and also told Sky Sports News he would shake hands with Hohaia when he sees him next.
Flower’s early red-card - the first in a Super League Grand Final - made headlines and news bulletins around the world.
Wigan went on to lose the Grand Final 14-6.