Older, wiser Paulo vows no rugby cameos as he prepares for Eels return

Returning Parramatta prop Junior Paulo quipped there would be no more random cameos playing third-grade rugby.

"Especially now my brother-in-law is no longer coaching that team,'' Paulo said with a smile.

As he prepares to pull on the Parramatta colours again in a Friday night trial against Canberra, the club that took him in after it was decided he should leave Parramatta for his own sake, Paulo said he had returned a much better and more mature player.

Back home: Junior Paulo makes his return for the Eels in a trial on Friday night.Credit:Renee McKay

A 2016 photo of him wearing headgear to a press conference, a day after he had been busted playing a game of club rugby for Oatley, reminds Paulo just how far he has come.

"It's easy to laugh about now, but understanding the image [and what it portrayed], it was definitely something I shouldn't have done,'' Paulo said.

"I still have the photos from that day when the boys geed me up to do an interview wearing headgear.

"But it's also an image I don't want my kids seeing. It was damaging to my brand. I'll never shy away from the mistakes I've made in my life. I'll always make mistakes. Whether you make them once or twice, you always learn.

"I felt the two-and-a-half years I spent away from Sydney was definitely one of the best decisions I made for myself. A lot of maturity needed to go into that decision, and I'm better for it now.

"The Junior Paulo back then is not the same Junior Paulo as now. My priorities are different.''

Capital investment: Junior Paulo trains with the Raiders last season.Credit:Jamila Toderas

That same year Paulo was issued with a warning by police for consorting with alleged criminals after a photo appeared of him at The Star.

"Back then I was young and dumb and just enjoying life,'' Paulo said.

"It's a stage of my life I won't regret. Everything happens for a reason and it's something I won't shy away from.

"It landed me in the position I was in back then. I'm grateful for the club to have the faith to get me back here.

"Parramatta feels like home. In the back of my mind I always knew I'd come back to Sydney, but I didn't think I'd be back this soon.''

Paulo, 25, was knocking on the door of NSW Origin selection not that long ago and has quickly impressed his Eels teammates with his leadership and work ethic.

The wrecking ball is also keeping an eye on his weight, tipping the scales at about 124 kilograms, a far cry from the 130 kilograms he weighed when he first joined Canberra, and much lighter than the 140 kilograms he blew out to after Samoa's World Cup campaign.

Canberra were keen for Paulo to remain with the club, but could never match the money on offer from his junior western Sydney club.

Paulo will be one of several big-name stars the blue and gold trot out at St Marys on Friday evening, with the wraps to be taken off much-hyped teen five-eighth Dylan Brown.

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