BEN Flower has been urged to “carry on from where he left off” when he resumes his career for Wigan in Thursday’s Super League derby with Warrington.
The 28-year-old Welsh international forward on Tuesday completed his six-month ban for twice punching Lance Hohaia in the opening moments of October’s Grand-Final at Old Trafford.
Flower stunned the 76,000 crowd with his attack on the St Helens half-back and, after becoming the first player to be sent off in a Grand Final, was handed the second heaviest suspension in the history of Super League.
Wigan coach Shaun Wane told a news conference at the DW Stadium on Tuesday that he will throw Flower straight back in, almost certainly from the bench, and expects him to be just as physical.
“I hope he’s a bit more aggressive and a bit stronger and a bit fitter,” Wane said of Flower, who underwent knee surgery during his enforced play-off.
“He’s without a doubt one of the best front rowers in the comp and that’s we want. We need a Ben Flower in our team. He’s dynamic, just what I like, he runs the ball hard and he’s uncompromising. He’s perfect for me.
I hope he’s a bit more aggressive and a bit stronger and a bit fitterShaun Wane
“I’ll be telling him to go as hard as he can, run as hard as you can, hit as hard as you can and just carry on from where you left off because bear in mind in the play-off games last year he was one of the best. I want him back to that form as quickly as possible.”
Flower, who was fined 50 per cent of his wages during his ban and has been coaching local juniors as part of the punishment handed out by his club, is ready to “rip in”, according to Wane.
“He’s in a very, very good state of mind,” the coach said. “He’s very strong and he’s trained really well. I can’t wait to put him in. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been itching for this game to come and he’ll get a chance.
“He just wants to get back to what he’s paid to do, playing rugby and being one of the best middles in the competition.
“He’s had a long pre-season and he’s dying to rip in.”