Parramatta loves a cult hero and they’ve unearthed another star to bring the fans to their feet in big second rower Pauli Pauli.
A drawn out bellowing of “Fui” has dominated Eels NRL home games for the past decade in honour of the ultimate crowd favourite, Fuifui Moimoi.
Before him there was Mark Tookey in the late 1990s. The man mountain would hear his surname resounding around the ground whenever he took a hit-up.
And you think it can’t be too long until Pauli becomes part of the vernacular amongst the Parramatta faithful.
The 19-year-old who stands at an imposing 188cm and 105kg hasn’t taken long to force his way into the Eels starting side and it’s no surprise he’s been taking advice from another bruising body with a catchy name, Moimoi.
Pauli will go head to head with Cronulla and Paul Gallen on Monday night at Parramatta Stadium, and admits he’d one day like to lift the temp of the crowd like his mentor Moimoi.
“I don’t see myself as a favourite (at the moment) but if it does happen in the future then I’m happy,” Pauli told AAP.
“I’m still young and trying to start off my career.
“Fui’s probably been my main idol. He’s the main person I look up to because he’s got strong carries and he works hard.
“I’m trying to replicate my game on Fui.
“He’s mentally tough and physically tough as well so he’s got a lot of experience to be able to tell me what to do.”
Sydney-born Pauli was eligible to play for Samoa in last week’s Pacific Test, but decided instead to represent NSW in the under 20s State of Origin, in a boost for the future of the Blues forward pack.
Pauli has locked horns with the likes of Matt Scott, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Aaron Woods in recent weeks, but ahead of his clash with Origin skipper Gallen – the Parramatta junior says he fears no one.
“No I haven’t been intimidated by anyone,” he said.
“I’m only scared of God.”
Parramatta and Cronulla are playing for the Johnny Mannah Cup on Monday night, in memory of the late prop who represented both clubs.
It’s a big game for his brother, Eels co-captain Tim Mannah, who this week re-signed with Parramatta for a further three seasons.
Cronulla are missing five-eighth Todd Carney, but welcome back warhorse Luke Lewis, who will wear the No.6.