Dyldam Parramatta Eels lock Joseph Paulo says the Blue and Gold’s thrilling comeback win against the Sea Eagles owes a lot to the leadership of co-captains Jarryd Hayne and Tim Mannah.
Trailing 12-0 at halftime, Paulo says the entire Eels side drew on a new maturity to pull off a 22-12 win in front of their home crowd, inspired by two senior players and local juniors.
“It’s just a different aura of confidence around here,” Paulo said.
“It was a real team performance, everyone really put in, we showed the determination at half time to come back and play the team that’s coming first, and I felt like it was a moment where we showed a lot of courage.”
“And I think it’s the maturity that’s coming through this team, especially with leadership, with Timmy [Mannah] and Jarryd [Hayne] leading us the way they are and players understanding the players they can be, and reaching their potential.”
Paulo points to Hayne as a man who’s grown into his captaincy role through the hard times of 2013, when the club collected the wooden spoon, into Round 25, 2014, where the Eels’ finals hopes remain well and truly alive.
“After last year when he was [co]-captain, and he went through that tough time, it really taught him a lot about being a captain and being a leader of the team,” Paulo said.
“It’s not about just wearing the badge but actually leading, on and off the field, and I think that he really has stepped up.
“He’s hard on us,” Paulo explained.
“We always talk about being a great team, and he mentioned it at half time [on Friday].
“[Jarryd reminded us] we talk about being good, but if you want to take it to the next level and play in the finals you have to be great. He put the challenge to the boys and everyone stood up to that challenge, and that’s the kind of Jarryd that people don’t see.”
“They see the skilful, scoring the tries, doing the plane, they don’t see his talk, his leadership, his one-on-ones with the boys.”
“I think that’s where he’s grown into the kind of captain that everyone knew he could be and he’s really thriving on it.”
Next on the Blue and Gold’s charge for a finals spot are the Newcastle Knights, and Paulo says his side will be wary of the wounded Knights, especially after suffering a 16-10 defeat at Parramatta back in Round 16.
“We know every team that’s had a hard game the week before is going to turn up the next week,” Paulo said.
“We’re playing them at home [in Newcastle] so we have to be ready. They got us here at our home ground so we’ll be looking for the challenge and hopefully get the win up there.”