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NSW fullback Jarryd Hayne will play his 18th game for NSW on Wednesday night.
"Two tries - including the decisive match-winner – that will lead to a four-point win for NSW, leaving them 80 minutes away from a history-making series victory."

That's the bold prediction from Parramatta lock Joseph Paulo for inspirational skipper Jarryd Hayne when the talismanic fullback runs on to Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.

It sounds fairly ambitious, probably bordering on miraculous. But it's not exactly far from what every man and his dog are expecting south of the Tweed.

The Eels are currently the league's fourth-best team, a description we've been unable to pin on Parramatta since their fairytale run to the grand final five years ago.

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In fact, Hayne's teams are yet to occupy a position this high on the NRL ladder since his second year of first grade in 2007. But now that he's almost single-handedly made Parramatta relevant again, many are expecting him to do the same for the Blues.

In other words: Jarryd Hayne, come save NSW.

"I know he doesn't want to carry that expectation but he does because he's a high-profile and he gives his best," Paulo told

And it's not exactly fair, Hayne's teammate says. Take it from someone who goes to church with him – he's watched Hayne crash and burn carrying the weight of a club that hasn't seen premiership glory in almost three decades.

"I don't think he's looking to be a saviour. He just wants to be part of the team and make the team stronger," Paulo said.

"He's tried to carry us in the past but obviously hasn't prevailed. For him to be at his best, the team needs to be at its best first.

"For him, it's just more about him enjoying his football, you know? I reckon he's done it toughest out of everyone, because he's got that expectation and he's played at the highest level but hasn't really achieved much."

While Hayne – who missed games II and III of last year's series – has had no problem showcasing his supreme athletic ability and freakish match-winning feats, his leadership has always been more difficult to identify.

But that's not the case in 2014, says Paulo, who has witnessed his good mate return from Australia's World Cup triumph a more mature captain.

"For him to go to the World Cup and play for the Kangaroos and then actually win it, it means a lot to his confidence and his attitude about how far his talents can take him," Paulo said.

"I'm just glad he's enjoying his footy. He's really applying himself and that leadership role that he's taken on. He's really doing a great job with all the young guys and all of us boys coming through.

"Because he knows how much it means to him - being that young guy and being around for a while - I think that extra role he's now playing as a leader...  the boys look up to him.

"He tries to not carry that weight but he plays his best and the boys seem to follow him."

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