‘He made a stupid mistake but he’s taken ownership’: Mal defends Holmes selection call despite white-powder drama

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga remains a big fan of Valentine Holmes and says the winger didn’t deserve to be dumped from Australia’s Pacific Championships campaign for a “stupid mistake”.

Holmes will play his first match in almost three months at AAMI Park on Saturday night, lining up against New Zealand.

The 28-year-old was fined and suspended for one match by the NRL for posting an image on social media in September of him holding a small bag containing white powder.

Holmes had already been sidelined for the final four games of North Queensland’s season due to a high-tackle ban.

While opinions have been split on his Australian selection, Meninga said the World Cup winger had paid the penalty for his actions.

“I’m an admirer of Val. He made a stupid mistake but he’s taken ownership over that and he’s paid his penalty,” Meninga told reporters in Melbourne.

“There is a redemptive feature to anyone in life so you get these chances and Val will grab his chance tomorrow night.

“He was part of our World Cup campaign and he’s been part of the Australian set-up for a number of years, since 2016, and he’s playing his 20th game which is a huge milestone.

“He’s never let his country down, his state down or his club down.

“He made a silly error, a poor decision, but that shouldn’t count against him to be picked in this footy team.”


Australian coach Mal Meninga was famous for his exploits in the BRL. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

While Holmes has impressed on the training track, five-eighth Cameron Munster has been quarantined through the week with the flu.

Meninga expected the star No.6 to take part in their final hit-out late Friday before a call will be made on whether he will tackle the Kiwis, with Nicho Hynes on stand-by.

“He’s (Munster’s) a lot better but he probably needs to get all his energy back so we’ve still got well over 24 hours before the kick off so we’ll see what happens.

“I think he’ll be ready to play – he wants to play so it’s just up to his energy levels and to see if he’s up to a Test match.”

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