Lance Hohaia says he has accepted Ben Flower’s apology for the sickening assault by the Wigan prop which ended his Grand Final.
Speaking in the aftermath of Saturday’s powderkeg Old Trafford clash, Hohaia also indicated that he would not support a criminal charges against Flower.
The 31-year-old clashed with Flower off the ball after the Wigan player knocked on and ended up being knocked to the ground and then, sickeningly, punched again while prone on the pitch.
Despite the brutality shown by his opponent, Hohaia said he accepted Flower’s apology.
“I would have liked to play a bigger part in the game but sometimes these things happen in our sport,” said Hohaia.
“I can’t remember being punched but I remember the second half and being part of the celebrations.
“I was a bit foggy for a while. I think I was knocked out. I would have liked to go back on but the medical staff have got to do their job and there’s more important things to worry about than sport sometimes.
“I don’t feel cheated, just disappointed I didn’t get to play a bigger part - but I’ve still got the ring to show for it, which I’m happy about.
“I’m not a malicious person. Sometimes people do silly things in the heat of the moment that they regret.”
Hohaia, who has accepted a one match ban for his part in the confrontation which preceded Flower’s attack, has had to postpone a family holiday in Europe while he recovers from his injuries.
Police, meanwhile, have spoken to the Kiwi ace and Saints officials over the attack and a decision on whether to proceed with criminal charges against Flower is expected over the coming days.
In a statement on Wigan’s website, Flower, 26, said he was “devastated” at what he had done.
He said: “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 teammates, 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.”
Flower was charged by the RFL with a Grade F offence of violent and aggressive punching/punching an off-guard opponent.
He went before the RFL’s disciplinary panel last night where he was handed a ban keeping him from all forms of rugby until April 15 next year.
The ban is one of longest in rugby league history.