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'No mates on the field': Hodgson's warning for Paulo

Canberra co-captain Josh Hodgson knows there won't be any love lost when the Raiders reacquaint themselves with former teammate Junior Paulo on Sunday at GIO Stadium.

Paulo, a 123kg wrecking ball of a man, played 55 games with the Raiders, claiming the 2017 Meninga Medal - the club's ultimate prize.

However, trying to slow the roll of the immovable object will be a task that Canberra's middle forwards are looking forward to in what shapes as the game of the round.

"As a hooker you tend to make 30, 40 tackles a game in the middle so there's a chance we'll collide with each other," Hodgson said.

"I do like the challenge against bigger men and especially guys I've played with. It just gives you that little bit of incentive to win against somebody who's just left the club.

"I'm not so much looking forward to it (him running at me) but I am looking forward to the challenge.

"He's a big, skilful kid and he's a Meninga Medal winner and he's a great player and we knew we'd miss him because he's a great fella off the field.

Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson.
Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"But there's no mates on the field, Junior knows that, and he's been playing well but we know we need start quick and see if they can keep up with us."

The Raiders are showing no signs that they're getting carried away with their early success, despite the club enjoying it's best start to the Telstra Premiership since 2005.

Consistency has been the missing ingredient for the club in the past two seasons.

On Sunday the Raiders seek a third straight win against a red-hot Eels side.

Parramatta haven't tasted victory in the nation's capital since an 18-12 triumph round 17 of 2006.

"To be three wins from four is a good start and if you'd asked us before kick-off to the year we would have taken it, especially against the opposition we've been playing against," Hodgson said.

"Hopefully we can make it four from five but it's going to be tough against a team like Para who are looking like they're on a roll at the moment and they have some big boppers in the middle that are really getting them good go forward."

The Eels are second in the NRL for all-run metres (6821m) and third for post-contact metres (1946m), summing up the task facing the Raiders this weekend.

Aiding Canberra's cause is the increasing fluency between the right-edge combination of Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana, after the Kiwi winger's return from shoulder surgery.

Raiders v Eels - Round 5

"I would like to think it (our combination) is getting better, it was a bit rusty there in the first game," Rapana said.

"But he's a wonderful player and I love playing outside of him so hopefully we can keep the combination going."

Rapana playfully said he had something to do with Leilua's improved defensive focus, as the pair prepare to face Maika Sivo and Brad Takairangi.

"I'll probably take some credit for that. I'm always on his case spraying him and making sure he's on the ball," Rapana said.

"I rate (Leilua) as one of the best defensive centres when he's fresh and not fatigued, and making silly decisions because of fatigue.

"Obviously he's a big body too so somebody is going to come off second best if they run straight into him, but I think his decision-making has been outstanding this year."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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