SHAUN Wane has been “amazed” at the media and public frenzy over Ben Flower.
The Welsh prop has been named in Wigan’s squad for tomorrow’s televised showdown with Warrington after his six-month ban came to an end.
Some of the reaction, I was shocked by it, and to still be talking about this, months and months after, is amazing to meShaun Wane
His comeback has re-ignited interest in Flower’s Grand Final red-card, with footage played on loop by Sky Sports. And half-a-year on from the controversy which made headlines around the world, Wane believes the fuss has been blown out of proportion.
He said: “I just don’t get it, to be honest.
“Ben Westwood didn’t have it, when he blind-sided Blake Green while he was on the floor and being held down (in the 2013 Grand Final), that never got mentioned.
“Some of the (reaction), I was shocked by it, and to still be talking about this, months and months after, is amazing to me.
“I know what he did was bad, but Christ, he’s took his punishment.”
Wane hopes a line can now be drawn under the controversy.
“He’s more than served his sentence,” he said.
“He let his team-mates down and we lost a Grand Final. If he’d stayed on, we’d have won by 30, everybody knows that.
“That in itself is a lot for a player to carry. Put the ban on – it’s been a tough one.
“I just want him to be left alone now and get on with playing now.
“Everything’s been said, and more... he’s bored of it, I’m bored of it.
“I just want him to be left alone, and get on with being a player, and we can enjoy the qualities of Ben Flower – one of the best middles in the competition.” He plans to introduce the Welsh international from the bench midway through the opening half of tomorrow’s game – and Wane doesn’t want him to hold back.
“I’ve told him if I see any signs of that, he’ll be going to Workington (on dual registration),” Wane said. “I’m hoping he’s going to be really, really aggressive.
“If he holds anything back he won’t be playing against Wakefield the week after.
“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’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 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.