St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus insists that the sport must be supportive of Ben Flower during his six month suspension from Rugby League – saying that his rehabilitation has now become “paramount”.
In a statement released by the Saints following Flower’s ban being issued on Tuesday evening, McManus says that he must be accepted back into the sport when his ban expires, and insisted that St Helens will stand alongside Wigan, as well as saying that the matter needed to be dealt with only by the game’s governing body.
The statement read:
“These matters have to be dealt with by the appropriate body within the game and it has so been. Whilst serving his ban it is critical that Ben is now provided all due personal and professional support. His rehabilitation is now paramount. During the period of his ban he will be no more than a 25-year-old boy who will be extremely vulnerable emotionally.
We must assist him in any way that we can and accept him back into the sport. There is a person behind the player, and I am reliably informed by all that it is a good one. He must know that from all. Lance Hohaia certainly feels that way towards him also.
“The sport of Rugby League should not be judged by this event, but by how it deals with it.
“Ian Lenagan is a strong Chairman of a great club and I know that he will look beyond mere effect and more at cause. If anything is identified and needs to be dealt with then he will. St Helens stand firmly at the side of Wigan at this time.
“Separately, the RFL will take its duties and obligations extremely seriously. Again, we must look beyond the offence itself and identify and deal with any surrounding contributory factors. Certainly, the officiating and disciplinary structures, systems and processes need to be scrutinised, and quickly. Most agree that there has been an increasing lack of consistency in the interpretation and application of the rules of the game, and in its disciplinary sanctions when such rules are deemed to have been broken.
“Real and rapid introspection is critical and trust needs to be unequivocal. Coaches and players must have much more clarity and consistency in the application of the rules and in their sanctions so as not to tempt participants to exploit unclear boundaries nor to risk the unpredictability of sanctions.
“This matter gives the sport of Rugby League the opportunity to positively differentiate itself yet again by dealing with a high profile problem in an efficient, transparent, pragmatic and effective manner. I am confident that it will.”