Junior Paulo says reaching the World Cup final with his beloved Samoa is one of the greatest achievements of his rugby league career.
The Parramatta Eels powerhouse played a key role’s in Samoa’s most successful World Cup to date. Matt Parish’s side became the first-ever tier two nation to reach a Rugby League World Cup final.
A skilful Samoan side fell short 30-10 against reigning champions Australia in the final at Old Trafford, but that didn’t dampen Paulo’s spirits as he reflected on a successful campaign.
“We’ve got a special bunch (of players),” he said. “Unfortunately, the journey comes to an end. We all go our separate ways but the one thing that will stick with us is history. Those names are always going to be besides each other. We can look back when we’re done and be proud of what we’ve achieved.
“This is probably one of the biggest achievements within my career.
“Every time I get to pull on the blue jersey it means so much to me; and people around the world. We’ve been able to see that this campaign, seeing the parades that are happening in New Zealand, Australia, America and around the world. Being able to take the field against such a quality team in Australia and playing at such a historic stadium like Old Trafford (makes me proud).”
Junior Paulo gracious in defeat
Paulo believes they can go one better in the 2025 World Cup in France; and praised the Kangaroos on their triumph.
When asked if they can go one better in the 2025 tournament, Paulo replied: “I think that’s the goal for us and every team that enters the World Cup.
“No one is coming to lose on purpose, everyone is chasing their dream of being able to achieve what Australia did tonight. It’s a credit to them. They were criticised throughout the week for not being passionate about the jersey but the guys who wore the green and gold tonight can definitely keep their head high and be proud of what they’ve achieved. The jersey means just as much to them as it does to us.”
We want to inspire the next generation of Samoans, says Junior Paulo
Paulo says he felt grateful seeing videos on social media of Samoan parades going on in Samoa, Australia, New Zealand and America ahead of the World Cup final.
“A part of us loves that we’re here but a part of us wants to be back home getting amongst it!” a proud Paulo smiled. “This is all part of the inclusion as to why we chose to represent.
“The community that we’ve been able to bring out within our own communities is a special point that’s never been able to have the lights shined upon for us within our own communities in Western Sydney or New Zealand.
“This is all part of being able to inspire not just the youth, but the next generation coming through; whether they want to be able to represent Samoa on the rugby league stage, or whatever decisions they make in life; they just want to be able to unite this beautiful nation that we get to call home. I’m thankful for rugby league that this allows us to do that.”