Flower punished by Wigan


Published: Friday 21st November 2014 by The News Editor

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Ben Flower has been found guilty of gross misconduct by his club Wigan after his attack on St Helens stand-off Lance Hohaia during October’s Super League Grand Final.

The Warriors prop has escaped dismissal though, and has instead been fined 50 per cent of his wages for three months. The Super League club added that a 50 per cent wages fine for a further three months had been suspended, on the proviso that he could “return….to his previous good (disciplinary) record”.

Flower was sent off after twice punching Hohaia in the face during the domestic showpiece match at Old Trafford and was later banned by the Rugby Football League for six months.

Flower’s punishment from the RFL amounts to a 13-game ban, comprising two pre-season trials, Wigan’s World Club Challenge meeting with Brisbane Broncos on February 21 and the first 10 games of the 2015 Super League season.

It is the second heaviest ban of the Super League era. Terry Newton, the late former Great Britain hooker, was suspended for 10 matches for knocking out Lee Gilmour and breaking the cheekbone of Sean Long while playing for Wigan against St Helens in 2005 but the ban was extended to seven months when his appeal was rejected.

Wigan have now concluded their own disciplinary process and said in a statement: ” Flower has been found guilty of gross misconduct due to violent conduct bringing into disrepute the Wigan club and the game of rugby league.

“In view of the player’s previous record and his remorse, the Wigan club has decided that he be fined 50 per cent of his wages for a period of six months and must undergo a rehabilitation programme involving service with young people in the community during his banned period as he prepares to rebuild his career.

“Three months of the fine will be suspended and subject to return during the next 12 months to his previous good record. This judgement was decided appropriate rather than summary dismissal which was possible from a gross misconduct verdict.”

Flower stunned the 70,000 crowd and millions watching on television when he landed a right hook on Hohaia while he was motionless on the ground just two minutes into the match.

The Wales international had moments earlier reacted to an off-the-ball forearm strike from Hohaia by knocking him to the ground.

Hohaia had earlier accepted a one-match ban after being charged with a grade B offence of striking which normally carries a suspension of one or two matches.

Flower apologised for his actions the day after the final, saying: “There is no defence for my actions. It was something that happened in the heat of the moment when our emotions and adrenaline were running high. I instantly regretted it and am devastated that I allowed myself to punch someone like this.

“At Wigan we are known for being aggressive but we are constantly told to do this within the rules of the game and that punching isn’t tough. We may aim to dominate teams, but we don’t aim to hurt people.”

He added after being punished by his club: “I fully accept this decision taken by Wigan. I deeply regret my actions and I am grateful for the support that my club has given me throughout this process.

“It is a relief to reach closure on the incident and I hope to move forward now and rebuild the trust of my club, team-mates and the Wigan fans.”

Published: Friday 21st November 2014 by The News Editor

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