Facing a critical derby clash with Kotoni Staggs and the Broncos this Saturday, North Queensland’s Semi Valemei has volunteered to fill in Valentine Holmes‘ spot at the centres. The Cowboys are going to be without Holmes for the rest of the regular season following an unsuccessful appeal of his sentence at the judiciary on Tuesday evening.
Without their star centre, the Cowboys‘ performance has traditionally been poor, rendering the impending game against the Broncos increasingly difficult. Since Holmes joined the Cowboys roster in 2020, they have only managed to win three out of the 16 matches without him, amounting to a victory rate of less than 20%.
Valemei served primarily as a centre in 2022, having featured in seven NRL games and the same number of NSW Cup matches for the Canberra Raiders when positioned in the centre. Valemei stated, “I would assume the role and I’m just going to ensure that I do the task for everyone,”. “Whether they place me in the centre or on the wing, I’ve just got to adhere to the strategy and aim to do the task.”
The Dragons have an issue as Jack De Belin faces a four-week suspension after his judiciary appeal failed. The most likely replacement is Jack Bird, provided he can overcome a persistent knee injury. On the extended bench, Ben Murdoch-Masila is aiming to be back following a knee injury. Moses Suli is questionable for the upcoming week after not being able to complete last week’s match due to a mild calf strain.
Regrettably, Sam Walker is afflicted by a knee injury, according to the Roosters coach Trent Robinson, who has not provided a definite return date for him this season. Striving to gradually increase his playing level, Walker is yet to train with the team. Returning from a hamstring injury, Ben Trbojevic is ready for his first game since round 18.
Despite a rib injury, AJ Brimson is cleared for tonight’s game, with rumours hinting at his potential shift to centre allowing Jayden Campbell to cap as No.1. The returning Marata Niukore from concussion is anticipated to remain unchanged while giving the Warriors a significant boost.
Zac Hosking is playing as a centre though could be replaced Izack Tago, who is on the extended bench looking for a comeback following a leg injury. Nelson Asofa-Solomona is expected to be back from his finger injury. Eliesa Katoa, who played last week after recovering from an eye injury, might be brought into the starting lineup.
The Cowboys teams are expected to move Semi Valemei into the centre to replace the suspended Valentine Holmes with Kyle Feldt coming onto the wing. Jesse Arthars (suspension) and Brendan Piakura (illness) are both expected to be back for Broncos.
Waiting for Jack Bird to fill in for the recently suspended Jack De Belin, the Dragons are yet to have their replacement confirmed. However, Bird is dealing with a knee injury which kept him on the bench in the last week’s and he has been playing reserve recently.