Samoa captain Junior Paulo is set to miss the Rugby League World Cup semi-final, after he was charged with striking during an emotional win over Tonga.
After being slaughtered by host nation England in their opening match, Samoa won their next two games and qualified for the quarter-finals, where they would come away with a 20-18 triumph over their Pacific Island rivals.
The victory set up a rematch against England, but they will likely have to do it without their front-rower and skipper after he was hit with a Grade A striking charge and will be suspended for one game.
Paulo was cited for raising his forearm while running into David Fifita, and has until 11am Tuesday (UK time) to appeal the suspension.
Samoa skipper Junior Paulo has copped a one-match ban for striking (raised forearm). Will miss semi-final against England unless he gets it overturned. Joseph Suaalii cautioned for raising knees in tackle.#RLWC21
— Eamonn Tiernan (@Eamonn_Tiernan) November 7, 2022
Junior Paulo banned for Saturday – unless Samoa appeal which they almost certainly will https://t.co/4f6oDka3lQ
— ᴀᴀʀᴏɴ ʙᴏᴡᴇʀ (@AaronBower) November 7, 2022
But in some good news for Samoa, young gun Joseph Sua’ali’i has been cleared to play in the semi-final, despite causing quite the stir for an ugly moment in the win over Tonga.
The 19-year-old lifted his knee while carrying the ball out of his own end, collecting Tongan forward Felise Kaufusi in the head. Sua’ali’i has been cautioned for the incident, but has not been charged and will be free to line up against England.
Kangaroos forward Lindsay Collins has also been cautioned, after he was cited for a cannonball tackle in the quarter-final victory over Lebanon.
Australia will take on New Zealand in the other blockbuster semi-final clash.