But rugby league was more than that, it was his saviour.
Born in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea, his Australian-born father became ill and, with Paul aged seven, the family had to move to Caboolture, near Brisbane, for his treatment.
Paul spoke no English, was the quietest in his class at school, and in danger of being an outsider. A friend introduced him to rugby league and, as well as giving him the social skills necessary to reach the top of his profession, it enabled him to find his personality, character and express himself – even though in his very first game he was knocked out by a girl on the opposing side.
From such beginnings, he went on to represent Papua New Guinea 16 times - the last against England in Melbourne in 2017 - captaining the sport’s most passionate nation and achieving his ambition of playing in a World Cup at home, where he is feted.
A pugnacious hooker involved in the toughest arena in the middle of the field, he won the reputation of being one of the hardest working, resilient and most self-sacrificial at his craft, and played over 100 games for Penrith and then Cronulla in the toughest competition in the world, the Australian NRL.
From there he came to West Yorkshire, signing for Wakefield Trinity and then moving to the most glamourous and successful club in the British game, Leeds Rhinos.
Whilst at the world-famous Headingley Stadium, he won a Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium and was part of the squad that claimed an unprecedented treble of trophies in 2015.
He moved on to the South of France, where he has played with equal distinction for Perpignan-based Catalans Dragons in the Super League.
Paul has enjoyed a wonderful rapport with the fans of all clubs he has graced, who appreciated his unstinting desire to always give his all for the cause.