Canberra Raiders prop Junior Paulo suspended from round one of the NRL season

Canberra Raiders prop Junior Paulo suspended from round one of the NRL season

The NRL integrity unit has slapped Junior Paulo with a one-game suspension two years after he was involved in a road-rage incident in Sydney.

In a bizarre end to a saga that started in 2015 when Paulo was playing for Parramatta, the Raiders detailed Paulo's suspension on Tuesday night.

Raiders player Junior Paulo.

Raiders player Junior Paulo. Credit:Jamila Toderas

He was ruled ineligible to play at the Auckland Nines last weekend and the NRL All Stars fixture in Newcastle on Friday night as well as being banned from the opening game of the NRL campaign on March 4.

Paulo will also complete club-sanctioned community service after pleading guilty to common assault and reckless driving to an incident almost 16 months ago.


However, Paulo has been cleared to play in the Raiders' only pre-season trial against the Newcastle Knights on February 18 at Seiffert Oval.

Raiders chief executive Don Furner said the club supported the integrity unit's decision and that the Green Machine was taking a tough stance on player behaviour.

"The Raiders believe in upholding the integrity of the game and we've worked closely with the NRL to determine this outcome for Junior," Furner said.

"The NRL has allowed Junior the opportunity to play in the NRL trial match against the Knights on February 18 to preserve his match fitness ahead of the season, but we agreed he should miss one NRL match."

Paulo pleaded guilty to assaulting a man after tailgating him in Sydney in October 2015.

The front-rower was playing for the Eels at the time and was later convicted of both charges. His licence was disqualified for 12 months and he was fined $1300 in October last year.

The Raiders were aware of the charge when Paulo arrived in Canberra as a mid-season signing last year and the hulking 123-kilogram forward played a key role in the club's finals charge.

The 23-year-old has been tipped as a representative star this year and has been earmarked as a NSW Blues bolter for the State of Origin series.

Some of Paulo's teammates will launch their own representative bids in the NRL All Stars match this week, including Jack Wighton, Aidan Sezer, Jarrod Croker and English recruit Jordan Turner.

The match has come under fire for being scheduled less than a week after the Auckland Nines and adds to a hectic workload for players who will also compete in the World Cup at the end of the year.

But Wighton says the All Stars game deserves a permanent place on the rugby league calendar.

Raiders fullback Wighton is gearing up for his fourth Indigenous All Stars appearance and says getting out into the community makes the game more than worthwhile.

Wighton's mother's family is from the Wiradjuri tribe, and the Indigenous All Stars' pre-game war cry provides him with a special moment to recognise his heritage.

"It's going to be a good start to the game, and a great game," Wighton said.

"The cause is even better, you know, the week leading up to it. We get out and do a little bit in the community and share the love so it's a good week.

"A few people have doubts on it and that just because of injuries and the time of year and that stuff, but I think it shouldn't go anywhere. It's for a great cause."

The week doesn't stop with Wighton recognising his own family history - he does everything he can to soak up his teammates' Indigenous culture.

"There's many different tribes or mobs, so it's always good to learn about the way other people live and some of their culture too," Wighton said.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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