Reliable Paulo leading Eels' NRL pack

Pamela Whaley
Junior Paulo has emerged as a vital cog in the Parramatta forward pack during the Eels resurgence

Junior Paulo's big engine and hard running has given Parramatta's pack physicality this season, but it's his reliability that coach Brad Arthur loves most.

The 26-year-old has started 2020 in the best form of his career, averaging 140 metres a game - the most in his eight seasons of NRL - as well as producing 16 offloads and two try-assists after six matches.

According to Arthur, Paulo is a big reason the Eels are sitting second on the ladder heading into Saturday's clash with Canberra.

"Junes has been really reliable for us this year, he's been leading the way," he said.

"He's been getting us off to good starts just by doing his job.

"He carries the ball hard, he can add a pass to his game.

"If you run straight into him he can hit you hard, so he's trying to bring that physical impact for us, that physical presence for us at the start of games and he's really enjoying that role."

Increased minutes have boosted his effectiveness for the Eels in his second season back at the club after a three-year stint with the Raiders.

The 126kg prop has always been considered a wrecking ball, but Arthur is finding value in playing him for longer minutes, playing a full first-half and a second stint later in the match.

"Junes has always been like that but probably hasn't had the opportunity to do it too often, but you need you best players on the field for long periods of the game," Arthur said.

"I'm sure if I said to Junes I needed him to play 80 minutes he could get it done.

"He's a smart footballer and he knows how to get himself around the field."

Paulo's power game will be key to stopping the Raiders big and mobile pack at Bankwest Stadium.

But more crucial for the Eels is righting the mistakes they made against the Roosters for their first loss of the season last weekend.

Currently the Eels concede the fewest penalties in the competition, and Arthur says the discipline they have prided themselves on needs to return against the Raiders.

"The last 18 months we've worked hard on that," he said.

"We're going to give away penalties, it's part of the game, but there were a few last week that we were in control of.

"It's just cheap possession or cheap points to a team that's the team to beat.

"The team we're playing this week, we can't afford to give them cheap points."