He is six years older and has performed greater than twice as many NRL video games however Junior Paulo admits he’s in awe of State of Origin teammate Payne Haas.
With Tevita Pangai on debut and different choices out injured, Haas and Paulo are tasked with main NSW’s front-row rotation within the collection opener on Wednesday – Haas from the opening whistle and Paulo when he comes on from the bench as an impression participant.
At 29, Paulo is without doubt one of the oldest members of the Blues enjoying group and has no scarcity of big-game expertise nor management credentials.
The front-rower has performed each recreation of the previous three Origin collection, co-captained Parramatta to final 12 months’s grand last and was a member of Samoa’s cost to the World Cup last in 2023.
However by the Blues’ week in Origin camp, Paulo has been seeking to Haas for cues, somewhat than the opposite method round.
“Each time you come into camp with Payne, you are form of in awe of how younger he’s, however how a lot of a frontrunner he’s,” Paulo stated.
“Particularly for somebody who’s solely been within the recreation for numerous years, and been on the prime for that lengthy.”
Paulo’s admiration for Haas has solely grown this 12 months.
The Brisbane enforcer has been pivotal within the Broncos’ resurgence and sits atop the Dally M leaderboard because the season approaches its midway level.
For the reason that inaugural Dally M Medal in 1979, a front-rower has by no means gained the award – a sign of simply how distinctive a expertise Haas is proving to be.
“He is simply developed his recreation,” Paulo stated.
“There’s maturity and management. You’ll be able to see he is an actual chief, what he does at membership footy.
“The Broncos have been enjoying off the again of him this entire 12 months.
“Once you’re coming right into a camp the place there’s a lot expertise, you form of are likely to step again and watch from expertise what you may be taught from the others.
“You need to have the ability to be taught off everybody and take that again and discover methods to instil it in your individual recreation.
“Payne is certainly one of many type, if not the most effective front-rower, and doubtless will likely be for a lot of extra years.”
The Blues breathed a collective sigh of reduction when Haas shook off his ankle damage and accomplished coaching on Sunday evening.
The prop was capable of run as regular and took part in the identical gentle contact drills as his teammates.
“We knew he was going to be all proper, he simply needed to ice up,” Paulo stated.
“It is good to have him again. It seems like nothing was even unsuitable with him, the best way he was working round.”
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