NRL News: Holmes learns white powder fate, Samoa make coaching call, Clubs kept off Strip in bid to avoid Vegas dramas


Valentine Holmes is set to miss the start of next season with the NRL Integrity Unit to hand down a one-game suspension and a $25,000 fine for the social media post that showed him with a bag of white powder.

While the official reckoning has not yet come down from the league, multiple sources are reporting that it will be just one match. 

One game appears to be par for the course, with a similar incident last year involving Melbourne’s Cameron Munster, Brandon Smith and Chris Lewis also earning the same suspension.

The Cowboys may end up with their centre available if Mal Meninga has included Holmes in the Kangaroos long list that was submitted to the NRL this week, as that would allow him to serve the ban in international footy rather than club competition.

Holmes is of Cook Islands and Maori descent, and could theoretically also be included for either of their squads in order to serve the ban. 

The Kukis will play PNG and Fiji, and Holmes could miss their first game and play the second if he wanted to serve his ban. 

Though he has never played for the Maori All Stars team, he is eligible and could serve his ban there at the start of next year, as Roosters forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is likely to do.

Samoa call in Gardiner to make team grow

Samoa have announced Panthers assistant Ben Gardiner as their new coach after Matt Parish stepped down after ending his stint by taking the team to last year’s World Cup final.

Gardiner, who coached the Wests Tigers for one game last year when caretaker coach Brett Kimmorley was unavailable, will guide Toa Samoa into the Pacific Championships against the Kangaroos and Kiwis next month.

“It is a privilege and honour to be entrusted with the role of head coach for Toa Samoa,” he said.

“It is a great opportunity to build connection and relationships as we move into a new era for Rugby League Samoa.

“Samoa has a rich rugby league heritage that connects us with culture & high performance, and I am committed to working tirelessly with our talented athletes to prepare them for the Pacific Championships. Together, we aim to make Samoa proud on the international stage.”

St George Illawarra NRLW mentor Jamie Soward has been appointed coach of Samoa’s women’s side for the new Pacific tournament.

“It is an extreme honour and privilege to coach Fetu Samoa,” Soward said.

“There is a large number of Polynesian women in the NRLW competition, and it’s exciting to have many of these players represent Samoa. I am also looking forward to embracing the Samoan culture during this journey.”

Clubs to be kept off Strip as NRL attempts to avoid Vegas dramas

The four NRL clubs set to travel to Las Vegas for next season’s opening round will be kept away from the famous Strip in an attempt to stop off-field scandals from occurring.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the league is set to book hotels 3km away from the heart of the Vegas action with hotels on the Strip deemed a potential source of trouble as well as a more expensive option.

Inevitably, the idea of four whole teams’ worth of rugby league players let loose on Las Vegas has caused some consternation, and the NRL will seek to limit this by putting them up at Resorts World, a 45-minute walk from the heart of Sin City.

It is also considerably cheaper and poses fewer logistical problems, with clubs not required to navigate the busy Strip to get to and from training and gym sessions. With upwards of 120 players and staff to travel, the net savings will run into the millions of dollars.

Brisbane have already announced a link up with the LA Rams and will be based at their facility ahead of their game, while South Sydney are likely to go for either Los Angeles or San Diego as their camp.

The Roosters will also travel via California with Manly the only side to go straight to Vegas.

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