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The Roar


Payten 'gobsmacked' by Bunker bin call as Holmes faces anxious Origin wait in Cowboys victory

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24th May, 2024

Valentine Holmes may well join the list of Origin outs after being binned for a hip drop in the Cowboys’ 42-28 victory over the Wests Tigers – a decision that left coach Todd Payten ‘gobsmacked’.

The centre would have been a walk-up starter for Billy Slater’s Maroons squad but must now sweat on the outcome of tomorrow’s judiciary charges, especially given priors that he has following a four-game suspension late last year.

Queensland will select their side over the weekend and will have to factor in the alternatives, with a move for Selwyn Cobbo, who has been at centre for the Broncos all year, the most likely option.

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Isaiah Papali’i was the unfortunate victim of Holmes’ tackle and departed the game as a result, with the Kiwi international, who is set to join Penrith next year, set for scans on what looked like a syndesmosis injury.

Payten couldn’t believe the sanction handed out, especially given a perceived lack of action for a later tackle by a Tiger.

“It wasn’t a hip-drop for a start,” he said.

“I’m gobsmacked by the interference from the Bunker in that situation.


“I don’t know what a rugby league player is supposed to do. (Papali’i) is going for a try, and he lunges at his legs. He’s going to land on his legs. But it’s not a hip-drop.

“Our game has tried to stamp out the hip-drop when there are two guys standing in a tackle, and they lose their legs and land on their legs.

“A textbook was David Klemmer’s in the second half, and nothing happened. The inconsistency annoys the crap out of me, the players, our members and fans of the game.

“Every time it goes to the Bunker, I get really nervous. I’m sure the players feel the same.”

It was ironic that, either side of his sin bin, the centre was one of the best on ground with two tries and 178 running metres, extra impressive given that he missed ten minutes.

His sin bin nearly precipitated a collapse. The Cowboys had raced into a comfortable 20-0 lead thanks to tries from Kyle Feldt, twice, and Jeremiah Nanai, but were in the process of being pegged back.

The Tigers scored two quick tries against 13 men which were followed by another shortly after half time with Holmes on the bench to give them real hope.


Lachie Galvin was the catalyst for the comeback, setting up a try with a pinpoint kick for Samuela Fainu and then denying Feldt at the very last moment with a crucial hand on the ball to force a knock on.

As with most things Wests Tigers in 2024, however, it could not last.

They were unable to build pressure well enough to add to their score and, when the Cowboys managed to find their feet, they began scoring again.

Sam McIntyre waltzed in by the posts under very little pressure from the Tigers defence and then Holmes himself got over in similarly simple circumstances. Nanai grabbed another late.

Though Wests have been blown away often this year – this was their eighth defeat on the spin – there were at least mitigating factors this time.


They played last at Magic Round and had to travel twice, as well as losing two more outside backs with both Justin Olam and Brent Naden suspended.

That lead to Dec Casey and Josh Feledy joining an already highly inexperienced side, with inevitable results.

They gave themselves plenty of defending to do and, while the late sides were soft, they were often the result of bulk tackling required.

The Cowboys take the two points but little else. They were able to run up a score on a Tigers side that might have lost in the NSW Cup, but still managed to concede some shocking tries that lay bare the ongoing defensive issues.

The late scores for Stefano Utoikamanu and Alex Twal were as soft as they come and did little to convince that North Queensland have improved off the ball.