Eels forward Joseph Paulo made 38 tackles off the bench last week. Copyright: NRL Photos/Grant Trouville.

Manly clash can 'make or break' Eels

Parramatta forward Joseph Paulo believes Sunday's clash against Manly will prove whether last year's wooden spooners have learnt anything from 2013. 

Having been pilloried for their 56-4 second-half no-show against defending premiers the Roosters last Saturday, Paulo says the team's response against the Sea Eagles will say a lot more about the Eels than what they served up last Saturday night. 

"We've definitely moved on from last year, we're not even thinking about it," Paulo told NRL.com. "Last year was last year, but this year is this year and [last week] was a bad loss for it. But I reckon it'll either make us or break us."

The 26-year-old said that rookie coach Brad Arthur was surprisingly positive after the game, despite his side getting caned 11-5 in the penalty count and conceding 700 metres more to their opposition than the Eels made. 

"He just said to keep our heads up. He said he wanted to see more commitment out of all of us and told us to never let it happen again," Paulo said. 

"He told us just to flush it out and move on to the next week. It's hard to come here and the Roosters in the form they were in. They towelled us up. It's not a good result for the team, especially confidence-wise, but like I said, it can make or break us. 

"We need to come to Manly strong otherwise it's just going to be like last year again."

Parramatta were defeated 28-24 by Manly in a trial at Brookvale Oval back in February, but not before the Eels raced out to a 24-4 halftime lead. Paulo said that while his side lost, there were some positive signs they could take into Sunday's game. 

"They're the grand finalists. We played them in the trial. They're really strong and fast," Paulo said. 

"I'm glad we got to play against them in the trial so we know what they're like. Hopefully we just prepare different to the way this week. And hopefully get a better result."

Hooker Nathan Peats returns from his club-imposed one-game suspension, while forward Darcy Lussick accepted an early guilty plea for his swinging arm on Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and will miss the next five weeks. 

The Sea Eagles welcome back off-contract lock Glenn Stewart, which means utility Jamie Buhrer returns to an extended bench that includes 18th man Jesse Sene-Lefao.