Paulo denies hip-drop tackle on Fifita

Parramatta prop Junior Paulo can escape a ban for a dangerous contact charge, but denies he made a hip-drop tackle on David Fifita on Friday night.

Paulo was placed on report after the weight of his body fell on Fifita’s ankle early in the second half of the Eels’ win over Brisbane.

Recognising it’s a dangerous move that the NRL is trying to get out of the game, Paulo said he was simply caught in an awkward position.

Paulo’s 123kg frame landed on the star second-rower’s ankle, causing him to leave the field in agony with what is believed to be a syndesmosis injury.

“I heard the scream straight away,” Paulo said.

“It was unfortunate in that position and I tried to roll out straight away but it is what it is.”

Immediately after the game Paulo apologised to Fifita, who has likely played his last game for the Broncos.

“I had no intent to go in and drop at the knees and it’s something that we’re trying to scrap out of the game,” he continued.

“It’s something I’m not worried about at the moment, we’ll wait and see what happens.

“It was just unfortunate to be in that position.

“I went in with the intent to tackle around the legs.

“It wasn’t about dropping onto his ankle or knees. I’ll be preparing like I’m playing next week.”

It prompted fears Paulo could cop a ban on the eve of the finals, but the grade-one charge means he can face the Wests Tigers next week if he takes the early guilty plea.

However, the carryover points will stay with Paulo throughout the finals series, meaning another charge will trigger an automatic suspension.

It’s a crucial result for the Eels, given a win against the Tigers will wrap up a top-four spot and a second chance come the finals.

Meanwhile, Penrith second-rower Viliame Kikau has escaped a ban for a high tackle on Valentine Holmes.

Kikau was placed on report in the Panthers’ minor-premiership sealing win over North Queensland, but will escape with a fine.

Eels centre Michael Jennings and Broncos captain Alex Glenn both face fines for high tackle and dangerous contact charges from Friday night’s games.

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