Hull FC's Brett Hodgson says eight game ban for racist abuse "too lenient" for Wigan's Tony Clubb

HULL FC head coach Brett Hodgson believes an eight-game ban for Tony Clubb for racially abusing Andre Savelio was “too lenient” on the Wigan Warriors player.

Hull FC's Andre Savelio, left, makes his complaint to referee James Child with Wigan captain Sam Powell and Hull skipper Danny Houghton present. (JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

Ex-England prop Clubb was charged by the Rugby Football League with using racist language following an incident involving Airlie Birds second-row Savelio in last Thursday’s Super League fixture.

He appeared in front of an independent operational rules tribunal last night which found him guilty of using “unacceptable language based on national or ethnic origin” and also fined him £500.

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Clubb, 33, was initially charged by the match review panel with a Grade F offence.

An eight-game ban is the minimum normally applied for such offences and included mitigating circumstances after the tribunal considered submissions from both players and clubs as well as character references and broadcast footage.

Asked if he thought it was an “appropriate” punishment, Hodgson told a press conference today: “My own personal opinion here - and I want to stress that - is that I thought it was too lenient in the current circumstances with everything that is going on.

“But, again, that is my own personal opinion.

“I felt that Andre handed himself very well and we’re proud of him and what he has done in these circumstances.

Wigan Warriors' Tony Clubb (SWPIX)

“We’ll continue to support him in that.

“He was put in a very hard situation and there is never a right time for racism in sport or in life in general.

“The fact that Andre stood up for himself, his culture and his ethnicity, I’m really proud of his actions from start to finish.”

New Zealand-born Savelio, who has Samoan heritage, made the complaint during the first half of the 16-14 loss.

It came just hours before the RFL joined the sporting boycott of social media platforms over the Bank Holiday weekend in a bid to tackle all forms of online abuse, including racism.

Savelio, who was visibly upset by the incident, said on social media after the game he would not “sit quietly.”

Clubb’s suspension - Wigan also fined him two weeks’ wages - starts on Saturday when the two sides meet again in a Betfred Challenge Cup quarter-final.

Hodgson says Savelio is keen to play in that contest at Emerald Headingley and he had not contemplated leaving him out because of the mental trauma of recent events.

“I believe he’s mentally tough enough and he has handled himself exceptionally well,” said the Australian.

“I can’t even contemplate what it felt like for him as obviously I’m not in that situation. He has handled himself extremely well and will continue to do so I’m sure.”

Asked if the 26-year-old had needed counselling since the incident, Hodgson added: “I haven’t spoken to him with regards anything specific along those lines.

“But we have people at the club that have reached out and made sure he’s okay.

“I’ve spoken to him about certain things along the way and been there to offer my support for him and he’s been great.

“Andre is a big part of our club, a big personality and is very well liked from the playing group, staff and the club in general.

“We’ve been very supportive of him and will continue to be so.”

Wigan issued a statement today.

It read: "Wigan Warriors is committed to standing firm against all types of discrimination and abuse and prides itself on rugby league's core values of inclusion and respect amongst the participants.

"The club accepts and agrees with the verdict of His Honour Judge Guy Kearl QC in the tribunal that 'the words used by Tony Clubb were ethnically offensive'.

"The club also accepts Judge Kearl's findings that 'Tony Clubb is not a racist, but on this occasion, he used unacceptable language in the heat of the moment'."

Meanwhile, Hodgson says Australian stand-off Josh Reynolds and Samoa second-row Manu Ma’u will both return from injury for Saturday’s Cup tie.

New South Wales State of Origin star Reynolds made a fine start to his Hull career this year after joining from Wests Tigers, scoring three tries in the opening two games before suffering a hamstring issue.

“It is a big boost having him back,” said Hodgson, who has lost full-back Jake Connor and prop Brad Fash to suspensions picked up against Wigan.

“He’s a high quality player. He’s been training really well.

“At a pinch, should our game last week have been a couple of days later than what it was, he may have been able to go in that game,

“We thought it was more important to put some more kilometres into his legs and have that fatigue element come into his training.

“He’s got through everything well as has Manu Ma’u who will be playing as well.

“There’s two inclusions into our squad who are two of the better players in the league in my opinion so they will strengthen our group.”

However, Hull are set to be without England prop Scott Taylor - who was injured at Wigan last week - for six to eight weeks causing a shortage of front-rows given Brad Fash serves a one-match ban this weekend.

With Jake Connor also serving a one-game suspension, Hull have recalled young full-back Connor Wynne from a loan spell at York City Knights and he could come into contention on Saturday.

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