Former NRL players Royce Hura and Aukuso Junior Paulo have been nominated for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame after being arrested with guns and cash in Sydney’s Centennial Park.
Police used stun grenades to subdue the pair, and their accomplice, just 100 metres from the park’s main cafe, on a sunny summer’s day. After the incident, the men were discovered to be in possession of semi-automatic weapons and more than half a million dollars in cash.
It is believed the cash is not their accumulated winning bonuses from their time at the Parramatta Eels.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. Kiwi international Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 before Corey Norman in 2016 and Tim Simona in 2017.
The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.
When asked to explain the firearms and large sums of cash, Hura and Paulo claimed they were trying to relocate eels.
“We were trying to get eels out of the ponds in Centennial Park and take them back to Parramatta,” they explained.
“Eels belong in Parramatta, but some of them are slippery characters and they don’t always want to go.”
“We found the cash in the car park at the Parramatta club. Someone told us an official was going to use it to pay some of the first grade players, but we’re not sure. We just knew that it might be good to offer to the eels to get them out of the park.”
And the guns?
“In case the cash didn’t work.”
Hura and Paulo will face court in the near future, but will have to wait until late 2018 to learn if they have earned a place in The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.
First published in December, 2017.