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Paulo a more mature man on Eels NRL return

Junior Paulo, after leaving Parramatta for Canberra in 2016 needing to get away from Sydney distractions, returns to the Eels a more mature NRL player and man.

Paulo a more mature man on Eels NRL return

Junior Paulo, after leaving Parramatta for Canberra in 2016 needing to get away from Sydney distractions, returns to the Eels a more mature NRL player and man.

JUNIOR PAULO of the Raiders makes a line break during the NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium in Canberra, Australia.
JUNIOR PAULO of the Raiders makes a line break during the NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium in Canberra, Australia. Picture:Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Junior Paulo insists he's returning to Parramatta a more mature man, ready to step up on and off the NRL field after two-and-a-half years in Canberra.

In round one against Penrith, Paulo will run out for the Eels for the first time since May 2016, after leaving Parramatta for the Raiders midway through that season.


At the time, the young forward needed to get away from the distractions of Sydney, after a string of matters including a common assault conviction from a road rage incident and being warned by NSW Police for consorting with criminals.

But the 25-year-old says Canberra has changed him for the better.

"I won't shy away from where I was before I left," Paulo told AAP.

"But I'm definitely a lot more of a mature person on and off the field as well.

"I was able to find myself as a footballer in Canberra and being able to grow as one. I was playing good footy down there.

"And away from footy altogether, I found I was able to become a better father and a better adult and just a better person overall."

Crucial to that maturity was the extra responsibility put on Paulo as a father.

Surrounded by extended family in his childhood home of western Sydney, Paulo and partner Mele were forced to raise four-year-old son Mario-Cade and three-year-old daughter Rosalina without their normal extra support in Canberra.

"We were able to grow as a family with my partner and two kids," he said.

"For both of us, it was the first time we have ever been away from our parents and a move out of home. It was one we were looking forward to and has helped us grow as people."

Paulo arrives back at the Eels with a big job to do on the field.

Parramatta's pack had struggled last year for size and power, and 123kg Paulo brings them that in bucketloads.

Rangy second-rower Shaun Lane is another recruit, while powerful winger Blake Ferguson will give them momentum at the start of their sets for go-forward like he did at the Sydney Roosters.

"What I bring to the team is going to be a lot of that go-forward," Paulo said.

"But I can't do that without my teammates. I think we've got a good combination of forwards now - with size and mobility with our recruitment in the off season."

AAP


AAP




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