Police to probe death threats aimed at Flower

Ross McLean
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Ben Flower is serving a six-month ban
DEATH threats directed towards banned Wigan prop Ben Flower following his Super League Grand Final dismissal for punching St Helens’ Lance Hohaia were last night being investigated by police.

The abusive remarks were made from a single Twitter account and included comments such as Flower “deserves to be shot”, his “last days are approaching” and “dead man”.

“We’ve been made aware of abusive social media activity about the Rugby League Grand Final,” read a Greater Manchester Police statement. “Please be reassured that we are looking into this.”

The 26-year-old was handed a six-month suspension by an independent tribunal hearing, chaired by judge Christopher Batty, in Leeds on Tuesday evening – the longest for a single on-field incident in Super League history.

Former Crusaders front rower Flower, who is contracted to the club until 2016, pleaded guilty to the Grade F charge handed down by the Rugby Football League [RFL] match-review panel.

Such a charge is the most severe in the sport’s rulebook and is reserved for the most serious disciplinary reprimands, covering violent and aggressive punching as well as the punching of an off-guard opponent.

Flower will be banned until 14 April 2015, which will see the Wales international miss 10 Super League fixtures as well as the World Club series clash with Australian side Brisbane Broncos.

St Helens half-back Hohaia accepted a one-game suspension after being charged with the lighter Grade B offence by the RFL match-review panel.

Hohaia’s charge related to the forearm strike that preceded the flashpoint, which resulted in Flower punching the New Zealander to the ground before landing a second blow.

There remains the question of a potential criminal charge against Flower although St Helens and Hohaia have since confirmed that neither will be pursuing such police action.