Valentine Holmes learns Maroons Origin fate as NRL fans lose it over hip-drop drama

The sin-binning of the Cowboys star left viewers seething.

North Queensland star Valentine Holmes is free to play for the Maroons in the opening State of Origin game despite being placed on report for a controversial hip-drop tackle in the NRL on Friday night. Cowboys coach Todd Payten was furious about the decision on his star centre after seeing his side claim a rollercoaster 42-28 win over Wests Tigers in Townsville.

Holmes was binned in the 37th minute for a tackle on Isaiah Papali'i, that saw the Tigers forward exit the game. He was also seen in a moon boot after the match. But Payten insisted it was not a classic hip-drop style tackle and pointed to one later in the match from David Klemmer that also saw the Tigers forward placed on report, but not sin-binned.

Pictured here, Valentine Holmes sin-binned for a hip-drop tackle in the Cowboys' win over the Tigers in the NRL.
Valentine Holmes was sin-binned for a hip-drop tackle in the Cowboys' win over the Tigers in the NRL. Pic: Getty/Fox League

The contentious moment unfolded when Holmes and teammate Tom Dearden both made desperate tackles to try and stop a rampaging Papali'i from charging to the tryline. Holmes came off his feet as he dived to make the tackle, with part of his body coming into contact with the Tigers forward as he went to ground, as Papali'i immediately winced in pain.

Referee Belinda Sharpe consulted with the bunker and decided the incident warranted 10 in the bin for Holmes. But a similar tackle from Klemmer on Cowboys forward Kulikefu Finefuiaki later in the match drew no such punishment. Payten and many other viewers argued Klemmer's was more of a hip-drop than the Holmes one, and lashed the bunker not not sin-binning the Tigers player as well.

"We lose (a player) for 10 minutes and that inconsistency annoys the crap out of me and the players, members and fans," Payten said after the game. "Every time it goes into a bunker situation, I get really nervous. I am sure the players feel the same. The sin-binning changes the complex of the game and it becomes so hard to wrestle back momentum.

"With all the camera angles they can't be getting that wrong, amongst other calls. It is so frustrating... Textbook — David Klemmer in the second half — and nothing happened. The bunker has every right to interfere there and get the call right. We lose one (player) for 10 and they (don’t).

Holmes is almost certain to be named in Billy Slater's Maroons side on Monday for the Origin series opener in Sydney on June 5. The 28-year-old has scored 13 tries in 16 appearances for the Maroons and would likely one one of the first names picked.

His coach was adamant the centre didn't have a case to answer and the match review committee agreed, slapping Holmes with an $1800 fine on Saturday if he pleads guilty to the Grade 1 charge. Klemmer was not so fortunate and faces a three-to-four match ban for the Grade 2 dangerous contact charge, which is sure to only infuriate Payten further.

"It wasn't a hip-drop from the start so I am gobsmacked by the bunker in that situation," Payten added. "I don't know what a rugby league player is supposed to do when they are going for a try and a defender lunges at their legs. He is going to land on their legs. I have no doubt where he is going to land, but it is not a hip-drop."

Seen here, Valentine Holmes celebrates with Cowboys teammates during the win over the Tigers in the NRL.
Valentine Holmes celebrates with Cowboys teammates during the win over the Tigers in the NRL. Pic: Getty

Queensland incumbents Holmes and Jeremiah Nanai both had try-scoring doubles for the Cowboys in a strong Origin audition. Fellow Maroons mainstays Reuben Cotter and Murray Taulagi were also excellent, as were rival hookers and NSW hopefuls Reece Robson and Api Koroisau. The Tigers skipper was more dangerous with the footy but came off in the final 13 minutes, while Robson's defence was superior and he didn't miss a single tackle.


Winger Kyle Feldt scored inside five minutes after a charge by Nanai, who added the second try after out-jumping Jahream Bula to claim a Chad Townsend bomb. Feldt scored his second and it was 20-0 after 14 minutes but the Tigers capitalised on a sloppy passage from the Cowboys, with tries to Solomon Alaimalo and Bula reducing the margin to 10.

Lachie Galvin's neat kick set Samuela Fainu to score again for the Tigers after the break but the home side rallied with tries to Sam McIntyre and Holmes to regain the ascendancy. Nanai iced the win late on to consign the Tigers to an eighth consecutive loss before the visitors responded with two late tries to Stefano Utoikamanu and Alex Twal.

with AAP