Joseph “Captain America” Paulo seems to have done it all in rugby league – and done it everywhere.
The man who led the United States to an unlikely quarter-final berth is back on British soil and ready to suit up for the Cronulla Sharks in Sunday’s Dacia World Club Challenge against Wigan at DW Stadium.
Rugby-league.com: A new experience in a career full of them for you. Are you excited?
Joseph Paulo: “Yeah, for sure. It’s good to be a part of this. It’s not every team that gets it. To be in the World Club Challenge, you’ve got to win the NRL so for us to win as a club and come over here … hopefully we can do some damage.”
RLC: What are your favourite memories of playing in the UK.
JP: “Most of them were in the World Cup. I came over here with the Australian Schoolboys with a lot of the boys. Izzy (Israel Folau), Pearcy (Mitchell Pearce) and all that… that was a great tour. It’s always tough over here. (The opposition) are always big, tough and strong but I think we’ve got the team here to match Wigan on the weekend.”
RLC: You recently took an NFL player to Sharks training. How did you hook up that?
JP: “Yeah, Dwayne Allen. A friend, George Danzey, was good friends with Dwayne and he just said to look him up and I just sent him a text asking him how he was going. It just worked out he could come to training so we got to catch up and talk about life. It was good.”
RLC: This week you’ve done some sightseeing, the boys have been to Paris…
JP: “It’s not a holiday. There’s still a job. We’re excited about the challenge but obviously being in a new country, it gives you an opportunity to see some new sights and catch up with friends and family over here.”
RLC: For team-mates who’ve not played in the north of England before, what do you tell them about it?
JP: “You can’t worry about the weather. It’s always going to be cold here and you’ve just got to brave it out and do what we do best, which is play footy. There’s obviously a lot of young guys here and they’re excited. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming but we’ve got a lot of experienced boys who can keep them calm and get them through the week.”
RLC: What about the World Cup? Are you confident you’ll be in the US team? There’s a new administration. Have you heard from them?
JP: “We’ll see. I haven’t heard from them. There’s a new admin. I think they’ve done a great job over the past few years. We’ll see. Moving forward, I’d like to be part of it. When I saw they are having the World Cup over in the States in five years, I’d like to be a part of that. I’ll be 35, 36….” (actually, try 37 – ed)