Paul was injured in a tackle by Gorden Tallis three minutes from the end as the Kiwis strove to equalise. The Bradford Bulls player was due have X-rays last night to determine the extent of the injury after inspiring a courageous Kiwi effort as they went down 20-14 to Australia at the Olympic Stadium.
"I thought we had them on the rack several times but we just couldn't put them away," Frank Endacott, the New Zealand coach, said. "We're getting closer to them all the time but we're still not there yet."
Robbie Paul struck the first blow, taking an inside pass from Stacey Jones to give New Zealand a shock lead after only two minutes.
Henry Paul, playing hooker, added the goal and could have created a second try if support had arrived in time when he made a thrilling break from a tap penalty. Instead, Australia's defence held firm despite New Zealand have the majority of possession and they equalised before half-time when brilliant passes from Laurie Daley and Darren Lockyer opened the way for Wendell Sailor.
They took the lead early in the second half when Brad Fittler's kick caught out three defenders and Darren Smith came through to touch down. Logan Swann hit back for the Kiwis, but unlike Mat Rogers, Henry Paul could not convert, his kick coming back off the post.
Bryan Fletcher's storming run set up Fittler for a try that put the home side clear, but New Zealand responded through Lesley Vainikolo, before Rogers' fourth goal gave Australia their winning margin.
"This is a side loaded with talent but they showed plenty of grit," Australia's coach Chris Anderson, said. "It was probably not our greatest performance but we're still winning."
AUSTRALIA: Lockyer; Sailor, Daley, Smith, Rogers; Fittler, Langer; Webke, Johns, Lazarus, Tallis, Kearns, Smith. Substitutes used: Sing, Price, Kosef, Fletcher.
NEW ZEALAND: Barnett; Hoppe, Talau, Wiki, Vainikolo; R Paul, Jones; Vagana, H Paul, J Lowrie, McCracken, Cayless, Swann. Substitutes used: Kidwell, Rua, Hermansson, Swain.