Wigan Warriors prop forward Ben Flower has been banned for 6 months by the RFL following his red card in Saturday’s Grand Final.
Flower, who became the first person to be sent off in Grand Final history, knocked St Helens stand off Lance Hohaia to the ground before landing a second blow when the New Zealander appeared to have lost consciousness.
The ban means Flower will miss the start of next season and will not be able to feature in Shaun Wane’s plans until mid-April. This includes 10 Super League fixtures, two pre-season games and Wigan’s World Club Challenge match against Brisbane Broncos.
The suspension comes after Flower was charged with a Grade F offence- the most severe option the disciplinary panel can charge a player with. Hohaia subsequently has accepted a one match ban for striking the Welsh international with his forearm which provoked Flower’s reaction in the 3rd minute of Saturday’s final.
A statement from Wigan was released after the hearing saying: “Wigan Warriors would like to go on record as saying that the Rugby Football League disciplinary commission 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. Ben has issued an apology and is full of remorse for his actions. We will work hard to repair any damage caused to the reputation of Rugby League.”
It had been reported that St Helens could take legal action following the incident but the club confirmed after the verdict of the hearing that they would not pursue that route any further.
Saints chairman Eamonn McManus said: “These matters have to be dealt with by the appropriate body within the game and it has been. 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.”