Eels big man wants in on Nines
Parramatta weren't afraid to unleash human cannonball Fuifui Moimoi at last year's Auckland Nines, and now prop Junior Paulo wants coach Brad Arthur to do the same with him.
"They sent Fui last year and I really think he held his own coming up against the smaller, faster blokes. I'd like to get a run myself this year and get in the mix of it. It'd be fun," he told NRL.com.
Paulo was filthy when an osteo pubis injury stole his Nines debut earlier the year, giving Moimoi plenty of short form action at Eden Park.
"It was unfortunate. I was looking forward to the Nines, as well as the main season, the whole pre-season but I just had osteo pubis a couple of weeks before the flight," he said.
"I was pretty much in a lot of pain from overloading. I just had to get it right before the actual season began, so I missed out."
The 21-year-old wrecking ball looks the perfect replacement for Parramatta's long-time crowd favourite, who emotionally departed from the club at the end of last season after 201 games across 11 seasons.
Moimoi signed a one-year deal with English Championship side Leigh Centurions three weeks ago.
Paulo, who was born in Auckland and moved to Parramatta in 2007, said it would be disrespectful to the Eels icon, for the blue and gold fanbase to consider him the new Moimoi.
"Fui's his own man and I'm my own man just trying to make a name for myself," he said.
"I'm young, just coming up and trying to hold a spot in the first grade side. Fui's done what he's done for the game and for the club. I'm just trying to make my own name now."
Paulo admitted his toughest initiation in first grade came in last season's Round 13 clash against North Queensland, when he got the first run-on of his career against the Cowboys' Test front row pair of Matt Scott and James Tamou.
"The one thing I was working towards the whole year was being able to get my first starting position against the Cowboys. That was pretty good, going against two Test forwards," he said.
"It was tough, but I enjoyed it because the adrenalin takes over. When you're young and watch a lot of the older blokes on TV, it's always good to come up against them. I was lucky enough to score a try and we won that game, which was good for my confidence."
All up, Paulo started in nine of his 16 appearances for Arthur last season, and now the club's new cannonball has set his sights on further testing his abilities in the Nines.
"I guess it'd come down to a lot of fitness, just being able to withstand the heat there was last year during summer. It'd be fun, but for me as a bigger bloke, it'd just be about trying to stick with the faster blokes and being able to catch them. I reckon I can," he said.