Junior Paulo next NRL star to commit to Samoa for World Cup

Paramatta Eels co-captain Junior Paulo has become the latest NRL star to commit his international allegiance to Samoa ahead of the World Cup.

His commitment comes just a week after Canberra Raiders and Queensland forward Josh Papali’i declared his allegiance to the Pacific nation.

Paulo, 28, has played nine Tests for Samoa. He was a member of the squad for the 2017 World Cup Down Under. The New South Wales star has never represented Australia, but was considered a near certainty in Mal Meninga’s squad if he had chosen to represent the Kangaroos.

He did represent Australia as a junior.

However, Paulo says he wants to inspire the next generation of Samoan youngsters having committed to represent his heritage.

“It’s been a tough one. I’ve been torn between them [Samoa and Australia],” Paulo told 9News Sydney.

“Gus Gould really hit the nail on the head when he said what nation do you cry for when you sing the anthem. That played a big part for me. 

“For me, that’s being proud of my home and that’s Samoa.

“I’ve got my two grandmothers who are both overseas. And while they’re still alive, I want to be able to make them proud.

“I want to be able to inspire the next kid who is coming through the ranks and will be at home or in the Islands watching that World Cup and thinking ‘I want to be able to represent my country’.”

The inclusion of Paulo and Papali’i will further strengthen an-already powerful Samoa forward pack. Parish’s side is expected to feature Manly props Martin Taupau and Josh Aloiai. St George Illawarra back-rower Jaydn Su’A, North Queensland’s Luciano Leilua and Canterbury’s Raymond Faitala-Mariner are also expected to play.

Meanwhile, Penrith Panthers half-back and NRL Grand Final winner Jarome Luai is expected to represent Samoa. Club and New South Wales team-mate Brian To’o also previously pledged his allegiance to Samoa.