Newly appointed Samoa captain Junior Paulo was taken by surprise when he was asked to lead his nation at this year’s World Cup.
Paulo is one of the premier front rowers in the NRL and is coming into this World Cup off the back of a great season with the Parramatta Eels in which they made the Grand Final.
Speaking at the World Cup Launch event he discussed the honour of being names captain and their responsibility to future generations of Samoans by doing well at this tournament.
“I was quite surprised with the new announcement,” Paulo said on being named captain. “Being proud of your heritage of your parents and your grandparents and the people who go before you in the jersey it’s quite an emotional call up but one you embrace”
He continued to explain a lot of this year’s Origin players decision to represent their heritage rather than other nations.
“It’s something we spoke about quite briefly throughout the year, a lot of the guys about pledging to Samoa. It’s something we are proud of where we come from and our heritage.
“The sacrifice of turning your back on those tier 1 nations like Australia and New Zealand, the sacrifice is outweighed by the benefits socially we can provide for the next generation can only benefit them more.
“A win would signify a massive achievement for Samoa on the international scale and how long of a way Samoa has come in the past couple of years.”
Samoa take on England in their opening World Cup and Paulo is anticipating a big clash between both teams forward packs.
“We know we have a quality outfit and looking to hit the ground running this week against a tough opponent in England were giving ourselves every chance if we prepare well.
“It’s certainly been noted they have a quality forward pack and have been for the few decades in international rugby league and in the warm up game they certainly powered through the middle.
“It’s going to be a big challenge but certainly one we are looking forward too.”