Paulo denies he’ll leave Raiders to rejoin Eels

Canberra prop Junior Paulo has denied speculation he has agreed to return to Parramatta from next season, saying he wants to remain a key cog of the Green Machine.

The bullocking forward has played 42 games for the Raiders since moving south after a three-year stint with the Eels which wrapped up in 2016.

With Parramatta facing an almost impossible task to qualify for the 2018 Telstra Premiership finals, the club is one of several inquiring about Paulo’s services.

“No, I haven’t agreed to terms (with the Eels), there’s only been offers from several clubs from Sydney,” Paulo said.

“I’m trying to do my best here for the Raiders at the moment. Obviously I’d like to stay, but I’m just trying to play some good footy and do what’s right for our team.”

The Cabramatta junior said he didn’t want to rush into a decision, despite indicating he was happy with staying in the nation’s capital. He would not comment on possibly staying for less than his reported market value.

“Obviously I’d be looking to find happiness with my career on the field and off the field so it’s going to be a hard decision to take in but for now I’m focusing on playing the Rabbitohs this week, he said.

“When the time’s right I guess (I’ll make a decision), but it’s up to me to play some good footy and that will make my decision a lot easier.

“So hopefully get a good win this weekend against the Rabbitohs and I’ll take into consideration these offers.”

Standing in the way of the Raiders and their chance of three wins in a row is the red-hot Rabbitohs side, fresh off an impressive win over their arch-rivals, the Sydney Roosters.

Eight of the Bunnies forwards recorded more than 100 metres last round, and they are set to welcome back on-field leader Sam Burgess for this Saturday’s clash on the Central Coast.

“I haven’t watched their games at all, but if he is playing it’ll be a great task for our forwards to match up against him,” Raiders centre Joey Leilua said.

“He’s their go-forward and their leader so our boys have to step up to the plate and get in front of him.”

Leilua and Jordan Rapana have again shown signs of the becoming the potent pairing the Raiders need them to be on right edge this season.

“Jordan and me pull off these plays because of the forwards, they don’t get enough credit for our team,” he said.

“You see all of these spark from the outside backs but it’s usually the forwards they get us on the front foot and we just go off our instincts.”

The Raiders will be out to break a hoodoo at Gosford, having lost all five games they’ve played at Central Coast Stadium. 

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