Captain America thankful for City safety net
Eels forward and United States captain Joseph Paulo is thankful for his City Origin call-up for this weekend's annual clash with Country considering the sad state of affairs which have consumed American rugby league of late.
Paulo, who led the USA Tomahawks at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, isn't sure of what the future holds for the States' Test team.
The issues stem from way back in 2011 when seven teams split from the already existing American National Rugby League competition, citing poor decision-making from the governing body, to form the USA Rugby League.
In a situation reminiscent of the Australian Super League saga of the mid-1990s, the AMNRL supported the Tomahawks through the recent World Cup but have since collapsed to allow the USARL a chance to reinvigorate American rugby league as the governing body.
It was a decision which cost the USA automatic selection into the 2017 World Cup, as the United States Pioneers were born.
"I don't know what's going on with the American team. There was a war going on with the two American rugby league competitions. I'm unsure of what the clearance over there is of players playing from here in Australia," Paulo told NRL.com.
"I think they are just trying to set up the domestic competition and then worry about the national team later. It is definitely a shame how things have turned out. We definitely achieved so much in the World Cup and I think we gained a lot of exposure out of it.
"We had hope to build from that but it's just hard in America. It's a whole different market so hopefully we can work something out and bring the game of rugby league, the game we love, to the States."
With Paulo's American allegiances up in the air with the rift between the two competing bodies also stemming from the Tomahawks overlooking domestic players for the likes of Paulo and his fellow NRL forwards Eddy Pettybourne, Clint Newton and Joel Luani during the World Cup, his City Origin opportunity couldn't have come at a better time.
While Paulo has also represented Samoa in the past, the opportunity to represent the city of Sydney – the only place his rugby league career knows – was too good to refuse.
"[City Origin] is a great opportunity for me. I've played for a few countries and it's always hard to make these teams because there's always an elite crop in the NRL striving to be the best. So to be a part of it and be noticed is something I've definitely been meaning to achieve," Paulo said.
"I first came over to Australia [from New Zealand] when I was eight and was raised and went to school over here. I first played rugby league in Sydney, so I think it's just another opportunity afforded to me from Sydney and Australia which is awesome.
"It's good for me to represent my family and show how much this jersey means to me. All I've ever known about rugby league has been in Sydney so to represent the city which has taught me how to play is exciting for me. I'm now able to show the guys who have come before me, and who have set the platform for us previously, what I'm capable of."