Paulo avoids ban for cannonball tackle, free for Origin
Parramatta and NSW enforcer Junior Paulo will be available for selection in the State of Origin series opener after escaping suspension for a cannonball tackle in the Eels' NRL loss to Canberra.
Referee Grant Atkins placed Paulo on report in the first half of the Raiders' 26-18 victory after the prop entered a tackle late and wiped out the legs of Canberra prop Joe Tapine.
Tapine hyperextended his knee and left the field for medical attention but managed to return in the second half.
On Sunday, the match review committee handed Paulo a grade-one dangerous contact charge that carries a $1800 fine with an early guilty plea.
Only a two-match ban would have rubbed Paulo out of consideration for Game I of the Origin series, to be played at Adelaide Oval on May 31.
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur, known for keeping his comments on refereeing decisions to a minimum, disputed whether Paulo's tackle was dangerous.
"It's not a cannonball ... there's no force in it whatsoever," he said.
"100 per cent (he shouldn't be charged). There's nothing in it."
Potential Queensland bolter Corey Horsbugh will also remain in Origin consideration; the Raiders middle man was sin-binned for striking Parramatta's Ryan Matterson during a fracas but was not charged by the match review committee.
Canberra boss Ricky Stuart questioned why Horsburgh had been sin-binned while Paulo remained on the field for his tackle.
Horsburgh made glancing contact at best with Matterson, and Stuart didn't miss with his critique of Atkins' call.
"That was a poor decision ... that really put us under pressure," he said.
"I'm a mate of Junior's and I don't want to add any extra exposure to it, but I had a player go off over (his tackle).
"Corey Horsburgh pushed a player in the head, Corey got pushed in the head as well when he was held by a jumper.
"The interpretations around like that, it's just crap. You can't change interpretations week to week, I feel sorry for referees because they're the ones under pressure with interpretations."
Stuart praised Atkins for not sin-binning Parramatta centre and former Raider Bailey Simonsson, who was put on report for a hip-drop tackle - a dangerous hit that usually results in players sitting down for 10 minutes.
"I'm glad it's changed because too many players are laying down now on the hip-drops," Stuart said.
"Some (players), the hardest part of their night is to get up and pretend they've got a sore leg.
"I don't believe you should be sin-binning blokes for hip-drops because it's tackles that accidentally go wrong. Coaches do not coach hip-drops, if you went into a tackle to try and do a hip-drop, you will miss it."