Paulo hasn't told us of his plans: Croker
Canberra Raiders captain Jarrod Croker said prop Junior Paulo is a part of the team until the man himself tells him otherwise despite mounting speculation he is bound for the Parramatta Eels for 2019.
Paulo is set to sign with his junior club on a lucrative multi-year deal after arriving in Canberra mid-way through the 2016 season.
However, Croker said he has not been told they won't have Paulo from 2019 onwards.
"Until Junior makes a decision he'll tell us straight away what's he's going to do," Croker said.
"As far as I'm concerned he's a Raider and there's not much else I can do or say until I know any different."
Paulo has made his presence felt in the middle for Canberra in his 42 games to date, forming a potent combination with Shannon Boyd.
The Raiders' run through to the preliminary final in 2016 could in part be attributed by the bullocking runs from Paulo.
His impact with and without the ball would be sorely missed according to Croker if he does decide to head back to Sydney.
"He's a fantastic bloke and great player and he's been great for us since he came down now for the last couple of years," he said.
"The boys all want him to stay and it would be really sad to see him leave but Junior's got a young family and I'm sure he'll make the decision based on that, so we'll have to wait and see."
Paulo's future is just one of many that will have to be decided over the coming weeks in the nation's capital.
Raiders boss Don Furner said talks around outstanding contracts would be ramped up from round six onwards, with as many as 14 players up for new deals at the end of this season.
Croker said his side was immediately concerned about trying to beat the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday is Gosford.
"It's not too much of a worry for us (contract talks), it happens every day in our game, it's a business and every player are off contract at some stage and every team goes through having players off contract," he said.
"The players that are off contract have got a few things to think about but as a playing group we're just worried about training well and playing well."
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has rewarded the same 17 that took the side to a 18-2 victory over Parramatta last week.
After only six rounds, it's a rare sign of continuity for the side who has seen several changes through form and injury.
Fresh off their impressive win over the Sydney Roosters, Croker knows the Rabbitohs will provide a stern test at a ground in Central Coast Stadium where they have failed to win on five previous occasions.
"They've been really good, the Burgess boys, they're big enough, and when they get rolling they are a tough team to stop," Croker said.
"Damien Cook out of dummy-half is lightning, so it's a massive test for us.
"Our defence the last couple of weeks has been really good so that's what we're going to be focussing on again.
"So, two big forward packs going at it and some pretty good outside backs on display for both edges, it should be a good game to watch."