NRL: Coach banned for a year after letting Junior Paulo play club game

Eels forward Junior Paulo fends off the attempted tackle of Storm forward Kevin Proctor. Photo/Getty.
Eels forward Junior Paulo fends off the attempted tackle of Storm forward Kevin Proctor. Photo/Getty.

Junior Paulo's brother-in-law has been suspended from rugby union for a year for sending the Parramatta forward on to the field in a third grade park match.

Eels coach Brad Arthur said on Thursday the club had dealt with the incident "in-house" and confirmed Paulo will line up for the Eels on Friday night when they take on South Sydney.

But the man who sent him on the field during Oatley's 17-10 rugby union win over Beecroft in Sydney wasn't so lucky.

Oatley third-grade coach Hendry Lees - Paulo's brother-in-law - was suspended for a year. The Samoan international wore headgear to disguise himself and played under an alias, coming on in the closing stages of the match on April 30.

NSW suburban rugby union competition manager Tim Richards sent a statement to clubs saying Oatley had hidden Paulo's identity and falsified team sheets.

"The sheer stupidity of allowing and encouraging that should be obvious to all," Richards wrote.

"Coaches and club officials have a duty of care to ALL players - their own and opposition alike.

"The Union takes none of this lightly and the coach responsible for the player taking the field, and his club and team, have been severely penalised."

Lees, speaking before the penalty was handed down, said he took full blame for the incident.

"I just wanted my boys to play alongside a superstar," he told News Corp Australia on Wednesday night. "I know it was wrong.

"But everyone, just once, would like to say they played alongside someone like Junior.

"We're obviously close so when he came along to our game on the Saturday and there was a few minutes left, I said go on, jump in. Somebody told me not to do it but, yeah, I did it anyway."

- AAP

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