Paulo's familiar path to final with Benji

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Most young footballers want to follow in the footsteps of Benji Marshall, but few have done it as specifically as Jaxson Paulo.

The South Sydney winger, 21, will play alongside Marshall on Sunday in the NRL grand final against Penrith.

It's been 16 years since Marshall was last there, at a similar age to Paulo, starring in Wests Tigers' 2005 win over North Queensland.

Both born in New Zealand, they moved to the Gold Coast at a young age and played for Nerang, went to school at Keebra Park State High School and headed to NSW for a shot at the big time.

Paulo's uncle Paul Rauhihi as well as other childhood heroes Johnathan Thurston and Matt Bowen were in action that day, but Paulo's heart was taken.

"Watching that year when I was really young, it's what made me love the game," he told AAP.

"Benji oh yeah, he's been an idol since I grew up ... since he arrived at Souths this year I've discovered we've grown up the same sort of way.

"Same junior club, same school ... it's pretty crazy. Getting to know him and understanding what he's about, it's one of the best things ever."

A product of Gold Coast's development system, Paulo doesn't regret leaving when Souths called.

"I was still young, 18 I think, and just had a few boys ahead of me at the Titans, just wasn't ready at that stage," he said.

"Footy wise it was the best option for me and looking at it now I don't think I would've got the same opportunities that I did."

Josh Mansour's injury has opened a permanent spot on the wing, with Paulo famously backpeddling over the line for a try in their preliminary-final win over Manly.

In just his second season Paulo is doing his best to savour the moment.

"When I first moved down I had guys like Greg Inglis, Sammy Burgess, John Sutton in the locker room, I didn't know what was happening," he said.

"And on the weekend when Benji caught the ball and had a bit of room he did a big goosie (step).

"It was like I was watching in slow motion, thinking 'oh he's going to make something crazy happen here'."

"Talking to a guy like Benji ... for them it's so special so I'm just trying to make it the best time for them and look after our older boys that have been working for this."

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