Dyldam Parramatta Eels forward Junior Paulo was on hand this morning to officially launch the Blue and Gold Eels jerseys for the 2015 Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines tournament, which kicks off next month.
The jersey launch saw a range of innovative designs from all 16 NRL clubs involved. The Eels will be wearing a specially made jersey that draws heavily on the features of an Eels, with slick lines an an ‘eel skin’ pattern whereas other clubs opted for an Aussie Rules-style top for the summer event.
Paulo, who was unable to take part in the inaugural year of the NRL Auckland Nines due to injury, was eager to get onto the field in early 2015.
“It’s pretty much around the corner once we get away with the Christmas break so I can’t wait to see what happens,” Paulo said.
“I would like to get a run in the Nines and just get my hands on the ball again.”
“The boys have been training the house down the past couple of weeks. We have two weeks to improve on what we can before we head off for Christmas break so the boys are working hard.”
Paulo, who became a father during the 2014 season, has had the opportunity to reflect on the past year and the damaging forward has been able to reassess his priorities for the upcoming 2015 season.
“Now that I have a little one it has changed my priorities. It makes it a lot easier for me to now, after I finish training, to head straight home to pick up the little one and relax and hang out!” Paulo said.
“My goal for me is to play as many games as I can for the Blue and Gold. Every kids dream is to play in a rep jersey, and I am just starting out, so I am just trying to hold my own in the team and hopefully I’ll be playing in a rep jersey soon.”
Paulo, who tasted representative honours as 18th man for Samoa this year, will be looking to apply his learning’s from the experience this upcoming season.
“It was probably one of the best experiences I have been a part of. When you go back to play for your own culture, having the boys around you makes it a lot easier to cope with the situation.” Paulo said.
“That strong bond and comfort helped me as a youngster, during my first ever taste of Test football” he added
Whilst Paulo looks to continue to press his claims for higher honours this year, the proud father is already thinking about his young son playing for the Blue and Gold.
“I would like to hope he is a future front rower! Or maybe he would be a back rower, or out on the flanks but hopefully he has a bit of pace like his mum!” Paulo joked.
2015 Auckland Nines Pool Draw
Rangitoto Pool: Eels, Sea Eagles, Knights, Dragons
Waiheke Pool: Storm, Cowboys, Panthers, Rabbitohs
Piha Pool: Roosters, Broncos, Bulldogs, Sharks
Hunua Ranges Pool: Tigers, Warriors, Raiders, Titans
For more information and to purchase tickets to the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines, visit www.ticketek.co.nz/nrlakl9s