Pauli Pauli works hard to master defence skills

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 15:  Pauli Pauli smiles during a Parramatta Eels NRL pre-season training session at Parramatta Stadium on January 15, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images) Pauli Pauli. Pictures: getty images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 15: Pauli Pauli smiles during a Parramatta Eels NRL pre-season training session at Parramatta Stadium on January 15, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images) Pauli Pauli. Pictures: getty images

From the moment Pauli Pauli pulled on a rugby league jersey people have marvelled at his size and attacking presence.

But the 20-year-old, who tips the scales at 120 kilograms, has spent most of his second year in the NRL working on an aspect many fans don't see.

"I spend most of the time working on my defence; it's an area I am constantly working on," Pauli said.

"A lot of the older boys help me a lot and talk to me about my positional play and my footwork and help my work on both sides of my game.

"I know my attack is my strongest point so it's about improving my whole game."

Pauli Pauli. Pictures: getty images

Pauli Pauli. Pictures: getty images

His hard work is starting to pay dividends.

His try-saving tackle on Pete Mata'utia a few weeks ago is indicative of that.

And while he described his match-saving play against the Dragons as a "bit lucky", the old adage applies: the harder you work, the more luck you have.

There was nothing lucky about the Eels locking up the talented forward for another two seasons.

The local junior has the pedigree to be a seasoned first-grader, with a glittering junior representative record including making the Australian schoolboys and NSW under 18 and 20s teams.

"It feels good to re-sign again. It feels like home here and I'm happy with where I am," said Pauli, who has now made 29 first-grade appearances.

"It's extra special because I've played in the junior ranks and come all the way through and now I'm here playing first grade."

After missing the trip to Darwin last year, Pauli looks forward to heading to the Northern Territory and spreading the game to the locals.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17:  Pauli Pauli of the Eels is tackled during the round 19 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on July 17, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) Pauli Pauli. Pictures: getty images

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: Pauli Pauli of the Eels is tackled during the round 19 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on July 17, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) Pauli Pauli. Pictures: getty images

"It's going to be hot, but I'm really looking forward to it," Pauli said.

"It is going to be a great experience and hopefully we can get the two points against Penrith.

"At this point of the season we are taking it one game at a time and just looking to win every game and see where it takes us."

The Eels take on Penrith Panthers at TIO Stadium in Darwin on Saturday in round 22.

Kick-off is at 7pm.

The Eels are 13th on the NRL; the Panthers are 12th.

This story Dynamic Pauli works hard on mastering defence skills first appeared on Parramatta Sun.