GOING face to face with an 850kg, five-metre crocodile named Chopper is hardly the ideal way to round out your preparation before an NRL game.
But that’s exactly how Parramatta prop Junior Paulo spent yesterday afternoon in the Top End.
Paulo and his Parramatta teammates have enjoyed the week in Darwin ahead of tonight’s clash against Penrith.
The front-rower thought he had a giant frame until he spotted Chopper through a 45mm acrylic glass cage. The staff at Crocosaurus Cove politely reminded Paulo as he was being lured into the drink that Chopper was the world’s third largest crocodile in captivity.
While Paulo held his nerve with Chopper, he’ll need to do likewise when trying to stop the Panthers forward pack at TIO Stadium.
The Eels were dreadful against the Titans on Monday night, and will need no extra motivation to hit back against their bitter western Sydney rivals.
Things won’t be helped by the fact Panthers’ playmaker Jamie Soward celebrates his 200th NRL game, and gun backrower Bryce Cartwright appears impossible to stop of late on the right edge.
“Penrith have an enthusiastic forward pack, and they’re a team that seems to be playing a lot of ad lib footy at the moment, and we need to match it with them,’’ Paulo told The Daily Telegraph.
v“It will be a big challenge for us. We were unhappy with last week, and we’re looking to redeem ourselves. We didn’t capitalise on opportunities, the effort was there, but in attack we were flat coming on to the ball. That’s something we’ve needed to work on as a team because one of our strong points has been our attack.’’
The Eels welcome the return of Will Hopoate, Brad Takairangi and Corey Norman, which will help with the scoreboard.
The blistering heat in Darwin is also a fact not lost on a big bloke like Paulo, who said the mercury had continued to soar since the team first arrived on Tuesday.
It’s often accepted teams run on empty when they play at the end of a lengthy road trip, which hopefully isn’t the case with Parramatta.
Originally published as Eels swim with killer croc
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