Junior Paulo escapes ban, free to play Samoa vs Australia final

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Samoa captain Junior Paulo has escaped a Rugby League World Cup suspension for the second time in a week.

The hulking Parramatta prop was let off without a ban by the match review committee for a lifting tackle on England’s Tom Burgess.

Paulo was sin-binned during the semi final and had a nervous wait to learn his fate, but is now free to play in the tournament decider against Australia.

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Last week Paulo was suspended for striking Tonga’s David Fifita, but was then let off on appeal and was allowed to play Sunday’s semi against the host nation, which Samoa won by a Stephen Crichton field goal.

Paulo will lead his troops out onto Old Trafford against the Kangaroos in the final on Sunday (3am AEDT).

Following their thrilling win over England, Paulo gave an emotional address to the Samoan dressing sheds which was posted to Instagram.

“The win tonight is overwhelming but never forget the impact we have had on the world,” Paulo said.

“Don’t forget the impact we have had on those people around the world who have never met us but have supported us right from the get-go. They have never forgotten about us.

“I don’t know if I have the words to describe how much it means. We’re all here because of the blessings and prayers that are going on around the world, Australia, Brisbane, you can name every city around the world. Every single Samoan around the world is going to be proud of what we achieved.

“It was always going to be tough when a lot of critics were against us but we always said the only thing that matters is the people in this room.

“That was going to be the only thing that carries us throughout this tournament. I said it before, that belief never changed right – from the get-go, from the first day we came into camp together.”

Samoa is the first nation since France in 1968 to make a World Cup final that isn’t Australia, New Zealand, England, or Great Britain.

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