Ben Flower has spoken out for the first time since he was sent off for punching St Helens’ Lance Hohaia in last year’s Super League Grand Final.
The Wigan prop became the first player to be sent off in a Super League Grand Final after striking the Kiwi international just two minutes into the match. Flower told Sky Sports; “I think about it every day. If I could take it back I would, every day of the week. The things that have come off the back of it have been hard. But letting people down has been the hardest – the players, the club and my family. It’s been tough for me – but it’s been tougher for them.”
The RFL handed Flower an unprecedented six month ban for the incident that took place in front of nearly 80,000 fans at Old Trafford and millions more around the world who were watching the match on television. The Welsh international revealed what it was like to be public enemy number one; “That was when it really hit hardest, knowing I was hated by everyone at the time, knowing you’re trending on Twitter. For me, as the type of person who wants to be friends with everyone, that’s where I started thinking ‘this is bad, how am I going to get over it, get through this and tell people how sorry I am.”
Since it happened, Hohaia has played down the incident, and Flower hopes to make amends with the 31 year-old; “I can’t thank St Helens and Lance enough. I’d look forward to meeting him and hope there’d be a handshake and a chat. I know he didn’t take it to heart.”
Flower also spoke about the devastation he felt at letting his teammates down; “I was devastated. It hit home then, letting my team-mates down – they had to play the rest of the Grand Final on their own. I went in to the changing rooms, and wanted to be on my own so I went in to the shower rooms, away from the cameras, and sat there thinking to myself – what have I done – repeating in my head – what have I done?”
The 27 year-olds’ suspension ends after round 10 of Super League and he is focussing on hitting the headlines for the right reasons when he returns; “I will give everything I’ve got to hopefully get us back there this season. I will try my hardest to be the best player I can be.”