Samoa captain Junior Paulo cleared to play in World Cup final

Josh McAllister
Junior Paulo

Samoa captain Junior Paulo has been cleared to play in the World Cup final against Australia after being placed on report for his tip tackle on Tom Burgess.

The 28-year-old Parramatta Eels prop forward was sent to the sin-bin for the incident at the Emirates Stadium in the first half against England. He returned to the field and helped lead Samoa to their first-ever World Cup final. They also become the first tier two nation to achieve the feat.

Paulo was placed on report for his tackle, but has been cleared to play at Old Trafford against the Kangaroos on Saturday.

Last week, he successfully overturned a one-match ban to feature against England after being placed on report for a leading elbow against Tonga’s David Fifita.

In the post-match press conference, Paulo said on the incident:  “It’s a game of footy. Sometimes accidents are going to happen.

“We play at a fast pace. Unfortunately, I was caught in something very unintentional. It’s the way footy goes sometimes. There’s not much I can do, but we can only control what we can. We’ll have to enjoy the moment for now.”

Meanwhile, England forward Morgan Knowles has received a one-match ban for dangerous contact.

Shaun Wane backed Junior Paulo

Despite his side’s defeat, England boss Shaun Wane also backed Paulo to be cleared to play in the final. Hosts England lost in golden point extra-time to Matt Parish’s Samoa, with Stephen Crichton kicking the drop-goal winner.

“I’m glad he didn’t get sent off,” Wane said on Paulo.

“I don’t think Mal (Meninga) would want him missing the game. That’s not the way this World Cup has been and everyone wants to see a strong Australia and a strong Samoa.

“I don’t think he should be [suspended].”

Samoa will be without hooker Fa’amanu Brown after he failed his head injury assessment in the first half against England. Danny Levi also returned Down Under last week due to family reasons. 

More World Cup content

England 26-27 Samoa: Samoa reach World Cup final with dramatic extra time win

Reflecting on the key moments of England’s World Cup semi-final heartbreak

Mal Meninga: That was one of the best test match I’ve been involved in

FOLLOW: Keep up with all the latest on the Love Rugby League mobile app and podcast