Ben Flower in action for Wales. Photo: Getty Images
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."
But the 183cm, 108kg Flower tells Fairfax Media: "He's saying our 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 in their shock 24-8 loss to Huddersfield 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."
On Wednesday, Wigan play the Warriors at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium just two days after an arduous journey that started with a bus trip to Glasgow Airport.
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 hero - 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."