IT WAS a bittersweet return to first grade for Junior Paulo last week.
The hard-running prop was rewarded for his devastating form with Wentworthville in the NSW Cup with a spot on the bench against the Sharks.
The only problem was the player he replaced was Fuifui Moimoi: fan favourite, cult hero and his idol growing up.
"It was hard but Fui was really professional about it," Paulo said.
"He got behind the boys, came to training and wished us luck. He showed how happy he was for the boys and how much a part of the team he is; he's a top player."
Paulo has justified his selection with two trademark powerhouse displays including a rare try assist in the Eels' big win against St George Illawarra.
The Cabramatta junior has also worked hard on his defence to become a more complete player.
"I worked hard on my defence at Wenty. Brad [coach Brad Arthur] likes to base our game around defence — we can score a try but we just need to stop points," the 20-year-old said.
"I just wanted to keep knocking on the door of first grade and it was good I got the opportunity to play and I just want to take it with both hands."