Flower hit with six-month ban

Ben Flower
Ben Flower
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WIGAN prop Ben Flower has received a six-month ban for his double punch on St Helens’ Lance Hohaia in the Super League Grand final.

The Welshman was sent off after just two minutes on Saturday and was charged with a Grade F offence on Monday.

The ban will mean Flower is excluded from all competitions until April 14, 2015. Wigan have accepted the decision and will not be appealing.

It will mean he misses 13 games in total; two pre-season friendlies, 10 Super League fixtures and the World Club Series game against Brisbane Broncos.

Earlier on Tuesday, Lance Hohaia pleaded guilty for his charge of a Grade B offence for striking Flower with his arm beforehand.

A statement from Wigan read: “Wigan Warriors would like to go on record in saying that the RFL disciplinary committee handled a very difficult situation with professionalism and integrity. We fully support their assessment of Saturday night’s incident involving our player, Ben Flower. We will be making no appeal.

“We would like to apologise to Lance Hohaia and his family and to the St Helens club and fans. St Helens win on Saturday has been overshadowed by the incident and that is wrong. The Grand Final was an incredible game and St Helens were worthy winners.

“We hope our respect and healthy rivalry can remain intact and that both clubs will return soon to Old Trafford to showcase properly the exciting splendours of Rugby League as well as its toughness.

“Ben has issued an apology and is very regretful and full of remorse for his actions.

“We will work hard to try repair any damage caused to the reputation of Rugby League.”

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus said it is important that Flower is welcomed back into the game following his ban and for others to not judge the sport on this one incident.

He said: “Whilst serving his ban it is critical that Ben is now provided all due personal and professional support.

“His rehabilitation is now paramount. During the period of his ban he will be no more than a 25-year-old boy who will be extremely vulnerable emotionally.

“We must assist him in any way that we can and accept him back into the sport. There is a person behind the player, and I am reliably informed by all that it is a good one. He must know that from all. Lance Hohaia certainly feels that way towards him also.

“The sport of Rugby League should not be judged by this event, but by how it deals with it.

“Ian Lenagan is a strong Chairman of a great club and I know that he will look beyond mere effect and more at cause. If anything is identified and needs to be dealt with then he will. St Helens stand firmly at the side of Wigan at this time.”

A statement from the RFL added: “Flower, who pleaded guilty to the Grade F offence on Lance Hohaia of St Helens, was also fined £300.

“At the tribunal the player acknowledged that his actions were unacceptable and expressed shame for the effect the incident had had on everybody concerned.

“The tribunal panel accepted that Flower had been provoked by a challenge from his opponent but took the view that his actions were malicious, intentional and had the potential for serious injury. The panel also expressed the hope that the club would continue to support the player through what will be a difficult period.”