Paulo embraces Shire sea change
In past years Sharks back-rower Joseph Paulo would have been gutted by the thought of playing in the Intrust Super Premiership, but a change of scenery this year has offered the City Origin representative a new lease on life.
After a five-year stint at the Eels, Paulo has embraced a whole new world since moving to the Shire.
Life out Cronulla way has taken some getting used to he admits, but Paulo is taking it in his stride as he looks to change coach Shane Flanagan's mind over naming him as 18th man for the Sharks' clash with the Sea Eagles.
"Coming here changed who I am. I lost six kilos in the off-season and my body shape changed. I've been amongst new training [regimes], new atmospheres and new guys. It's just like anything when you start a new job you're excited," Paulo told NRL.com.
"You're adapting to a new area and even getting used to having a beach to go to after training, rather than going to a pool at Parramatta. Or even back then I'd be too lazy for that so I'd just sit there at home and watch Foxtel, so my lifestyle has totally changed.
"Everyone is skating and surfing and I'm trying to keep up with these guys out here. Everything is just new to me and I'm really just embracing the change.
"I had a good stint at Parra and I spent most of last year playing for Wenty. It's always crap to end it like that but that's the way footy goes. I came here with a new mentality off the back of that, my attitude was fresh for this season."
Obviously disappointed by being overlooked for Cronulla's Round 1 squad Paulo was beyond stoked to be handed what can only be described as a dream Sharks debut in the club's 30-2 win over the Dragons last weekend.
"When I ran out all I could see were Jimmy Maloney face masks and I thought to myself 'how does this guy have the fans on his side already?' but really you couldn't beat making your debut in the derby. It's what footy's about," Paulo laughed.
"I never knew about [this derby]. For me coming from out west it was always about Parra v Penrith. So to see what it meant to be on this side of the bridge here it meant a lot and I was glad we were able to get the victory."
While his NRL chances at the Sharks expanded with Paul Gallen's knee injury, Paulo is hoping to use the next few weeks to his advantage – even if it means using his injured skipper to his benefit.
"I'm always trying to get around Gal, asking if there's anything I should be working on. If I can use this time while he's away to pick up some of the small pieces he has left behind, it'll make his return easier," Paulo said.
"Just seeing the way he works, his attitude and mentality towards playing you understand why he's played in the game for so long and one of the best leaders in the game."
"At the end of the day, nobody remembers Round 1 either. They only remember the team at the end of the year so if I can be in the mix and give myself the best shot to help this team become better I'll gladly accept that."