By STEVE MASCORD
OUTSPOKEN Nathan Brown has issued a World Club Challenge warning to Sydney Roosters: Wigan’s props are cheap shot merchants.
The St Helens boss and former St George Illawarra coach made the comment yesterday after his new signing, former Penrith half Luke Walsh, finished his first night as a Super League player in hospital undergong x-rays for a possible facial fracture after a late challenge from Wigan’s Welsh giant Ben Flower.
The 28-16 Wigan win at Langtree Park also marked the English debuts of North Queensland icon Matt Bowen and former South Sydney and Wests Tigers forward Eddy Pettybourne.
“He got hit in the head – without the ball. You know that’s going to happen when you play Wigan” said a fuming Brown.
“That’s standard with their front rowers. It happened to Gaz O’Brien last year.”
Brown was otherwise complimentary to the side who will meet the Roosters at Allianz Stadium on February 22, calling them “effective”, “fluid” and “terrific”. The starting props in Sydney are likely to be Flower and Scott Taylor with Pettybourne off the bench.
New signing Jordan James, a former Royal Marine, will push Gil Dudson for the final bench spot.
That’s if Flower, 26, escapes the wrath of the judiciary. Walsh played on after the 70th-minute hit and was taken straight to a local hospital for scans. Results were still unavailable at the time of writing.
Pettybourne, who played for the United States in the World Cup, had fans chanting his name after a couple of big hits off the interchange bench. “He’s got good footwork and a hit on him,” said coach Shaun Wane.
“There’s a few technical things EP can work on. He’ll get better.”
Bowen had few oppotunities, St Helens scoring one try after the Cowboys star lost the ball in a tackle. He was replaced at halftime.
“That was always the plan,” said Wane, joking: “He’s the same age as me.”
In Friday’s other pre-season game, Leeds flogged London 68-10 at Headingley.
Filed for: SUN HERALD
By STEVE MASCORD
WELSH giant Ben Flower has hit back at claims from Nathan Brown that he is leading a pack of Wigan cheap shot merchants into the World Club Challenge.
St Helens coach Brown earlier this month slammed Flower for a late challenge on his new Penrith signing Luke Walsh, saying: ‘He got hit in the head – without the ball. You know that’s going to happen when you play Wigan. That’s standard with their front-rowers.”
Speaking after Friday’s shock 24-8 loss to Huddersfield, the 183cm, 108kg Flower tells League Week: “He’s saying out players are dirty and I think he’s totally wrong.
“We’re a physical team. We showed that against St Helens. Why he came up with such a comment, I’m not sure.
“It’s his opinion. It’s down to him, what he wants to say.”
No action was taken against Flower for the challenge and Walsh was cleared of any serious injury.
Flower – who has no regrets at turning down NRL approaches to link with Wigan from the Celtic Crusaders – couldn’t say for sure if the World Club Challenge had distracted Wigan on Friday. “I don’t know if that was that but it’s just disappointing to start the season off with such a bad performance,” he said.
“Going down under, not many sides go down there and win but I guess if we can pull out a great performance down there … after what we did at Wembley and Old Trafford, we can definitely go down there and win.”
Tonight (Wednesday), Wigan play the Warriors at Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium just two days after an arduous journey that started with a bus trip to Glasgo Airport on Saturday. Team performance manager Mark Bitcon has argued no professional sporting team has ever had such a demanding schedule.
But new signing Matt Bowen is just as excited about watching this weekend’s World Nines and seeing a childhood – Brad Fittler – in action.
“I can’t want to see him playing in the Nines,” he said. “I played in the halves when I was growing up. Freddie played five-eighth, I loved the way he played and always loved watching him play.
“Freddie’s fit enough and I’m sure he’ll go well.
“I loved the Roosters growing up and I loved Adrian Lam and Freddie.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK