Papalii suspended for one NRL match

Canberra have handed Josh Papalii a one-match NRL ban on top of his suspension from the Anzac Test over a drink-driving conviction.

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The Raiders’ board on Monday decided the forward will be unavailable for Canberra’s round-10 clash with Newcastle in a fortnight after he pleaded guilty to drink-driving in an ACT court last week.

His club suspension comes after he was ruled out of Friday night’s Test against New Zealand in Canberra.

“The board believes Josh has endured a hefty punishment from both the court process and by his omission from the Kangaroos team and believed a further one match suspension was the correct punishment,” Raiders chief executive Don Furner said in a statement.

Papalii played in Canberra’s loss to Canterbury on the weekend, two days after he was fined $1000 and had his licence suspended for eight months over the incident in January.

Monday was the earliest time the Raiders’ board could meet to decide further punishment for the 24-year-old while the NRL moved to dump him from the Kangaroos side before they went into camp.

Australia captain Cameron Smith said Papalii knew he had done the wrong thing and was paying the price.

“That type of behaviour’s just unacceptable in general,” Smith said.

“It’s not what the Kangaroos stand for.

“Now he misses out on a Test match and it’s unfortunate for him because he’s playing some of the best football he’s played in his entire career.”

Papalii’s axing from the Kangaroos continues coach Mal Meninga’s tough approach to disciplinary issues which saw him overlook Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita for last year’s Four Nations because of his support for convicted killer Kieran Loveridge.

Parramatta winger Semi Radradra was also left out of that squad while he faced domestic violence charges.

“As we spoke about, Mal holds a firm line with behaviour issues and anyone that steps out of our beliefs, or are behaviours, you pay the price,” Smith said.

Fifita, who is set to make his international return in Friday’s match, said he felt for Papalii.

“He’s still young in his game and the sky’s the limit for him,” Fifita said.

“He’s just going to have to buy back in and earn the jersey back. It’s a tough road but he’ll get through it.”