Martin Gabor, National Correspondent
The St George Illawarra Dragons' decision to sign Paul Vaughan from the Canberra Raiders appears to be one of the moves of the off-season with the energetic prop establishing himself as one of the buys of the year after the first three rounds.
The 25-year-old was the standout player in his side's gritty 16-10 win over the Sharks on Sunday night, with Vaughan running for a team-high 204 metres to go with his 30 tackles, five tackle busts and a line break in 43 minutes of action.
Having spent the first four years of his career in the nation's capital, Vaughan said a change of scenery had worked wonders for his game with the Italian representative thanking Dragons coach Paul McGregor for believing in him.
"The biggest reason for me to come here was the quality of players that they had in the pack," Vaughan told NRL.com after the game.
"I wanted to be a part of that, and 'Mary' (McGregor) has shown a lot of faith and confidence in my game. That's something that I needed and sort of craved so now I want to repay the faith that he's put in me by playing good footy week in week out.
"He just wants me to be defensively sound, bring a good running game and to do the little things right. We've done all the hard work in pre-season and now it's time to deliver it on the footy field."
Each of Vaughan's 14 carries had purpose, but none were better than his scything line break early in the match off a Jack de Belin short ball.
"Credit has to go to Jack de Belin tonight for putting me into that hole," he said.
"He's a great ball player and I've always wanted to play with him because he's a machine in defence and he's got one of the biggest motors I've ever seen. I didn't have to do much with that play except hold the outside and he delivered the perfect pass to put me into the gap."
The only problem for Vaughan was that he ignored his support on the inside.
Tyson Frizell was there waiting for the pass, but according to Vaughan, he never saw or heard him coming.
"Was he there? I threw the dummy, got to the fullback and didn't see anyone because I had the blinkers on," he said.
"It's funny because I'm never in that much space so my first instinct isn't to look for support.
"This time I was looking around but I have to admit I had the blinkers on so I probably didn't see him. Everything was going so fast and you can't hear a thing in those situations.
"I always tell my family this because they're my biggest critics, but when you're in that position, the only thing you hear is yourself breathing. I don't know if it's because I've got cauliflower ears, but you can't hear anything else that's going on.
"I'll have a talk with 'Frizz' and I'm sure he'll tell me if he was open. I might have to buy him a couple of waters."