Dyldam Parramatta Eels forward Joseph Paulo says the atmosphere is buzzing at Parramatta as the Eels prepare to face the Penrith Panthers for the second time this season.

The Blue and Gold notched up a 32-16 victory over their Western Sydney rivals in round 4, but Paulo says he sees a noticeable improvement in the Eels side in the eight weeks since that win.

“[The Panthers] are coming third on the ladder and it’s showing in their performances, but for us I feel like we’ve improved,” Paulo said.

“We’ve come a long way: everyone’s just really working well together.”

And with a brief break over the bye round, the Eels utility says the team is eager to hit the paddock again.

“The way the game’s going: how fast it is, how physical it is, your body just can’t recover in time. So to have the week off, we really needed it and we can’t wait to turn up this week.”

With fullback Jarryd Hayne away on State of Origin duties, there’s a possibility Head Coach Brad Arthur will need to reshuffle his line-up for Friday night’s rematch with the Penrith Panthers. 

But Paulo says the Blue and Gold won’t be putting pressure on Hayne to pull off a 48-hour turnaround for the Round 12 game.

“Jarryd, he’s got a big responsibility,” Paulo said.

“If he’s ready to play on Friday he’ll play, but we’re not going to be pushing him. We know how important this Wednesday night is and we wish him all the best.”