Wigan’s players admitted that teammate Ben Flower’s punch on a prone Lance Hohaia was totally unacceptable following Saturday’s absorbing Super League Grand Final.
Ex-Saint Matty Smith, who is still good friends with the likes of Paul Wellens and James Roby, admitted Flower “lost his head”.
He said: “There’s no excuses - you can’t do that. He’s punched him on the ground. Benny will learn from that I’m sure and we’ll all be behind him. He’s a great lad and will come back stronger.
“It’s not the image the game wants to portray but it was a Saints Wigan derby in front of 70,000 people and we were all fired up. He just lost his head.”
Young winger Joe Burgess agreed: “It was a red card. If he hadn’t hit him on the ground I think he would have just got sin-binned but things happen so fast you can lose your head. I’m not blaming anybody. We still created opportunities throughout the game and we didn’t take them.
“We stuck in there for as long as we could but the fatigue set in. To be honest, Saints seemed to be as tired as us - which gave us a bit of a boost - but Makinson’s try was a killer.”
Wigan skipper Sean O’Loughlin claimed not to have seen the incident, but argued that Flower was “not a dirty player”.
He said: “It was a backs against the wall game for us really. I thought our effort was first-class but it’s always going to be tough when you’re a man down. It just wasn’t to be. I’ve not seen the incident. But Ben’s not a dirty player. Sometimes with the pressure of the game these things can happen.”