Dragons prop Paul Vaughan had a personal mission to get one over the young Brisbane forwards and make a compelling case to retain his hard-earned NSW Blues jersey.
Vaughan was dominant in the 25-24 win over Brisbane with his 189 running metres and 38 tackles. It was his powerhouse starts to both halves that gave his pack the ascendancy over NSW Blues hopeful Tevita Pangai jnr and young Maroons contenders Joe Ofahengaue, Jaydn Su'A and David Fifita.
The 27-year-old former Raider was aware of the hype around his rival pack during the week and challenged himself to get one up on them.
"It is one of those things that keeps you honest as a footballer. Each week that is what I love about rugby league: the challenge with yourself and against other teams," Vaughan told NRL.com.
"Football can be a pretty humbling thing at times. One week you can have a great game and the next week you can get humbled, but because of the competitive nature that I have I want to be the best forward and the best player out there.
“We knew we had a tough job ahead of us against Brisbane after their forwards got massive wraps last week.
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"It was a big match-up for me personally because a couple of their young fellas coming through have got intentions of playing rep football. I got my first taste last year, so I wanted to play well and set a good platform for the team."
Vaughan grinned when it was put to him that Pangai was one of the forwards in contention for a Blues middle forward gig. He admires the progress made by the Broncos wrecking ball, but has no intention of letting his former Raiders teammate take his jersey.
"It is a credit to Tevita. I was down at Canberra with him and I have known for a long time that as soon as he got his crack he was going to be a great player," Vaughan said.
"He has come a long way. I have a lot of respect for Tevita … but I am pretty passionate about getting an Origin jersey again. It is a long way away, so first and foremost it is about getting Saints off to go a good start."
Vaughan said he relished the way coach Paul McGregor used him against Brisbane.
"I was going for the first 20 minutes and last 10 of each half and that suits me," he said.
"I knew there was a great challenge for me and I’m pretty happy with my performance. I got through a lot of minutes and a lot of work.
"Our forwards for the last three weeks have done a pretty good job starting and setting the platform, but for the first two games we fell apart in the second half.
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"This week we hung strong and it was a great team effort against a young and powerful pack."
The Dragons will be without Test forward Tyson Frizell indefinitely with a lacerated testicle and Vaughan said it was vital to continue to win without him, starting with the trip to Newcastle next Sunday.
"Tyson is a huge loss for us. He’s been playing representative football for a long time and is a freak…so when he comes back it is going to help us massively," Vaughan said.
"The important thing now is that we can get some more wins and put ourselves in a good position because when he comes back we will be a better team."