Valentine Holmes is back in the frame to play for Queensland in State of Origin after avoiding a ban for a hip-drop tackle.

Holmes was on Saturday hit with a grade-one charge by the NRL judiciary for his tackle on Isaiah Papali’i during the Cowboys’ 42-28 win over Wests Tigers, and can escape with an $1,800 fine.

Holmes was sin-binned for the tackle that injured Papali’i, but will now be eligible to be selected by Maroons coach Billy Slater for the June 5 Origin opener.

His relief comes after Cowboys coach Todd Payten launched an impassioned defence of his star centre.

Payten said a worse tackle was made by Tigers’ prop David Klemmer in the same game on Cowboys forward Kulikefu Finefuiaki. 

Klemmer was not sin-binned in the match, but now faces a three-match ban with an early plea after being hit with a grade-three charge on Saturday.

“We lose [a player] for 10 minutes and that inconsistency annoys the crap out of me and the players, members and fans,” Payten said.

“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.

Isaiah Papali'i is tackled by Valentine Holmes

Isaiah Papali’i was injured when Valentine Holmes fell on his ankle.(AAP Image: Scott Radford-Chisholm)

“With all the camera angles they can’t be getting that wrong, amongst other calls. It is so frustrating.”

Holmes’s tackle was reviewed by the bunker. He was accidentally landed on by Cowboys co-captain Tom Dearden while making the tackle, which may play in his favour.

“It wasn’t a hip-drop from the start so I am gob-smacked by the bunker in that situation,” Payten said.

“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.”

Holmes has scored 13 tries in 16 appearances for the Maroons and tipped to be one of the first picked.

With Reece Walsh likely to play fullback and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow centre, Slater must decide between Selwyn Cobbo, Murray Taulagi and Xavier Coates for his two wingers.

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