‘Sad sight’: Valentine Holmes hip drop drama ignites NRL Origin debate

Queensland State of Origin coach Billy Slater will be desperately waiting for the NRL match review committee’s findings after Cowboys centre Valentine Holmes was sin binned for a hip drop tackle in his side’s 42-28 win over the Wests Tigers on Friday night.

The Cowboys ran out to 20-0 lead after just 16 minutes in Townsville and looked to be running away with a huge win.

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But despite coming into the match on a seven-game losing streak, the Tigers showed plenty of heart to respond.

Having scored back-to-back tries through Solomon Alaimalo and Jahream Bula to make it 20-10, the Tigers were well back in the game.

In the 36th minute with the Tigers attacking the Cowboys line, Isaiah Papali’i, who signed with the Penrith Panthers from next season, was left clutching his ankle just metres from the line after Holmes and Tom Dearden closed a gap.

But very quickly it was being checked for a hip drop tackle after Holmes lost his feet and the weight of both Cowboys fell on the back of his ankle.

Holmes is considered a near certainty for the Maroons side for the first State of Origin match but will have a nervous wait after the incident.

Former Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk said Holmes was “doing everything he could do to stop a try”.

However he added: “You cannot fall on the back of the legs.”

Holmes looked stunned by the decision, although Cronk said it was “the right call in terms of the sin bin”, adding the judiciary and match review had “been a lottery”.

Papali’i was helped from the field by the Tigers trainers after the incident and soon ruled out of the remainder of the match.

It looked serious as Papali’i returned to the sideline on crutches and in a moon boot midway through the second half.

“That’s a sad sight,” Warren Smith said in commentary.

Cronk argued that Holmes would likely argue there were “contributing factors” including it was scrambling defence and Dearden fell over the top.

When asked about it after the match, coach Benji Marshall said it “wasn’t good” but didn’t weigh into whether Holmes should have a case to answer.

But at halftime, former Queensland forward Corey Parker claimed there was nothing else Holmes could have done.

“Val makes a desperation tackle, Papali’i’s going to make the try. If Val doesn’t get checked or hit by Tommy Dearden, he doesn’t end up in that position,” Parker said.

“The unfortunate thing is that he did. The unfortunate thing also is that Papali’i left the field with an injury. So if he wasn’t checked in his tackle, it’s just a desperation tackle. The fact he did and ended up in that circumstance, he goes for 10 in the bin.

“The frustrating thing for a lot of punters is we see other times where there are players put in that position and they don’t go to the bin.

“Really awkward, unfortunate circumstances.”

Michael Ennis said it was “really unfortunate for Valentine Holmes on the eve of Origin selection.”

Yvonne Sampson pointed to the fact Holmes had a wrap sheet, having been banned for four games last year for a shoulder charge on the Titans’ Jayden Campbell.

But George Rose said he didn’t think there was any intent from Holmes.

“If Dearden doens’t hit him it doesn’t have that sort of impact,” he said. “I don’t think he should see any time on the sideline, especially with Origin coming up.”

The NRL has been clamping down on the act however, with the Tigers’ Aiden Sezer was given four weeks for a dangerous tackle earlier this month.

As for fans, they were divided over what Holmes should be facing.

ABC’s Zane Bojack posted: “Wow … Val Holmes might miss Origin with that hip drop..”

A fan replied that it was “not a hip drop”, but Bojack replied: “I agree. not a classical hip drop. but the bunker binned him and Papali’i was injured. who knows with this match review and judiciary at the moment.”

One fan posted: “Not sure what else Valentine Holmes was meant to do there?”

A Tigers fan commented: “Ref got it right it has been refereed like that for a while now, and he deserved his sinbin, but geez what is Val Holmes supposed to do there?”

A Broncos fan posted: “Val Holmes is gonna get himself suspended for Origin one when he probably didn’t deserve it.”

Another suggested: “Games deadset gone. Blokes getting sin binned because they can’t defy gravity and momentum. FMD.”

At the time of the Holmes incident it was 20-10 and the Tigers scored against after the break though Samuela Fainu to bring it within a score.

But three tries for the Cowboys took the score out to 38-16 before a late surge by the Tigers failed to get them over the line.

Rubbing salt into the wounds, Holmes finished with two tries and 22 points for the match.

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