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It’s been five weeks since Pauli Pauli played first grade, but he feels he is a better player for his time spent in the reserve side.

During that time he scored three tries, and last week racked up an impressive 177 metres in the second row.

“I think playing reserves has made me learn more about myself,” the 21-year old told Knights TV.

“It has taught me to be more dominant every week.”

The 120kg forward gets his chance in first grade this week with an injury and suspension to Sione Mata’utia, when the Knights take on the league leaders the Cronulla Sharks at Shark Park on Sunday.

“I’m expecting a tough game. They’re going good so it’s going to be tough, but hopefully we can stick it out and get the win,” he said.

“We’re trying to fix the little areas that we’re weak at, and if we can fix that for this week it will be alright.”

Pauli has noticed a change in atmosphere around the team, and puts it down to the progress that is being made.

“The boys love coming into training, they know that they’re improving every week which is good,” he explained.

“You can feel the difference when you come into the sheds… it’s happier.”

The team travels to Sydney on Saturday, for the first of two back-to-back away games before returning for Awesome August on home turf.