ALTHOUGH he has loaned him to Salford Red Devils for a “big kick up the backside”, Wakefield Trinity head coach Chris Chester still believes Pauli Pauli can become the best second-row in Super League – if he “wants” to.
The giant Australian, 24, was part of a surprise swap this week that saw Salford centre Junior Sa’u go the other way in a one-month loan deal.
With his powerful carries, Pauli has been a fans’ favourite at Belle Vue since arriving from Newcastle Knights last year but has not played as many minutes in recent weeks.
Chester said: “Pauli has fallen down the pecking order a little bit. He knows the reasons why and I’m hoping it’s a big kick up the backside for him.
“He’s maybe become a bit comfortable. He can be devastating on his day.
“I’ve told him from day one, in pre-season, again about four weeks ago and again the other night when I went to see him about that the loan deal that he could be the best – the most destructive – back-rower in this competition.
“But he needs to want to do that himself. These next four weeks I’m hoping we’ll see a different Pauli Pauli.
“He needs to get some more minutes and some more work under his belt and his opportunities here were going to be limited over the next month until we saw an improvement in his form. We’ve obviously got Matty Ashurst, Justin Horo, Danny Kirmond and James Batchelor so it’s a position where we are quite strong in.”
Former Parramatta Eels player Pauli if out of contract at the end of the season and his loan could be extended if both clubs agree.
Sa’u, 32, comes in almost as a like-for-like replacement for fellow Aucklander Bill Tupou who has a long-term injury.
Chester said: “We’ve been looking for a class centre for a number of weeks since we lost Bill and Joe Arundel.
“He’s a big unit, a very good defender, carries really strong and I’ve really enjoyed the tussles Reece (Lyne) has had over the last couple of years with Junior.
“They are two really good centres and I’m looking forward to seeing them play this weekend.”
Former Melbourne Storm centre Sa’u has fallen out of favour himself at Salford and not played since the 30-26 loss to Wigan on April 22.
He has an instant chance to make an impression for Wakefield when they head to bottom-club London Broncos on Saturday.
Trinity welcome back half-back and captain Jacob Miller for the first time since suffering a knee injury a month ago.
Full-back Ryan Hampshire and Super League rookie Ben Reynolds have been filling in in the halves with former Man of Steel Danny Brough also injured at the same time.
But Chester confirmed Miller will partner Reynolds so it seems either Hampshire – who is weighing up a new contract offer – or Max Jowitt, who has been at full-back, will miss out.
Wakefield are up to third in Super League and into the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
Chester added: “We’ve got four fresh bodies from last week – George King, Milky (Miller), Tyler Randell and Junior. They will all play some part Saturday.”
Anthony England also injured a knee in the same game as Brough and Miller but Chester is “worried” about bringing the prop back on London’s artificial surface so he is set to resume against Catalans Dragons at Magic Weekend.