Wigan Warriors' Ben Flower has publicly apologised for punching St Helens' Lance Hohaia during Sunday's Super League Grand Final in front of 70,000 Rugby League fans.
The 26-year-old became the first player ever to be sin binned or sent off in a league final when he was shown a red card for a violent attack on Hohaia in only the second minute of the game.
The incident saw Flower throw a right hook, flooring the 31-year-old Hohaia, before landing another punch while his opponent was on the ground.
Flower has since apologised, and acknowledged the severity of his actions. A statement by Flower released by Wigan said: “I am so sorry for what happened on Saturday night.
“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.”
"I firstly offer my apologies to Lance. I have full respect for him, and have never gone onto a rugby field to injure a fellow player.
"I'd also like to say sorry to my team-mates, our fans and the Wigan Club. I know I've let them down like never before and accept I'll have to live with this for the rest of my career."
"Finally, I'm sorry to the sport of Rugby League. It was a big night and I know I've taken the attention away from what was a special event."
Hohaia has also spoken publicly about the incident, insisting he holds nothing against Fowler.
"I don't hold any grudges against Ben," said the New Zealander.
"In the heat of the moment, people do some things they regret. I've done some silly things on the field myself. He's probably disappointed in himself for not being able to play a part in the game as well."
Welshman Flower began his career in Rugby Union, representing Wales at under 18, under 19 and under 20 level, before signing for Welsh Rugby League side Crusaders in 2007.
Flower became a regular starter for the Welsh outfit, putting in the performances to earn him his first Welsh cap in 2008. He has gone on to represent Wales in Rugby League on 16 occasions, scoring 1 try.
Hohaia played nine seasons for Auckland side New Zealand Warriors, playing 185 games and scoring 357 points in his time with the club, before making his move to St Helens in 2012. The 31-year-old has also represented New Zealand 29 times and scored 60 points for his country.
A police investigation is expected to be carried out, but a Rugby Football League spokesman said it would be up to Hohaia and St Helens to decide whether to pursue legal action.
Flower is set to face a disciplinary tribunal on Tuesday when he can expect a suspension of about eight matches.
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