Paul Vaughan believes the extra minutes he has been forced to play for St George Illawarra this season will enable him to help fill the void in the NSW team for Origin II after the loss of his Blues front-row partner David Klemmer with a fractured wrist.
Vaughan admits that it will be difficult to replace Klemmer but the Dragons prop agreed that Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Dale Finucane were two players worthy of a call-up into a NSW team he said should remain largely unchanged from the series opener.
"I think we have got a great team there, the talent is stacked from 1-17 so I don't think we need to really look externally too much, we just have to get a few things right internally," Vaughan said.
"I know there are a couple of changes that have to made through injury but we have just got to keep the same core players and I think we will be right."
Klemmer played the first 52 minutes of last week's 18-14 loss to Queensland at Suncorp Stadium because Blues coach Brad Fittler felt the Newcastle prop was performing so well he didn't want to replace him.
Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues
In contrast, Vaughan played 41 minutes in two stints but the 28-year-old regularly plays longer for the Dragons and has been averaging 54 minutes per match this season because of injuries to middle forwards and the unavailability of Jack de Belin.
"I don't know if I can play 50 minutes straight like Klem, because he has got a massive motor and I play differently to Klem, but at the same time I can do those minutes in different stints," Vaughan said.
"I want to step up and increase my workload as well. I want to try and match what he does but it is going to be pretty tough. At the same time, I am looking forward to it and I can't wait.
"Personally I thought my performance was pretty strong in Origin I and now I know I can compete at the level, I want to have a bigger impact, I want to play more minutes, I want to do more work."
Like his NSW teammates, Vaughan had no idea that Klemmer had fractured his wrist early in the first half as carried the ball more than 100 metres in the opening 20 minutes.
North Queensland prop Jordan McLean was the player most likely to replace Klemmer but he injured his hamstring in last weekend's loss to Manly, while Campbell-Gillard produced his best game of the season for Penrith and Finucane plays well every week at Melbourne.
"I think one of the best things NSW has is the number of forwards to choose from so whoever is going to get picked is going to do the job," Vaughan said.
"Campbell-Gillard has been there before and he is playing some good footy at the moment. He is getting back to form and when he is at his best he is one of the best front-rowers in the game.
"Dale Finucane has been a very successful player for a long time because he has been at a great club. He has played in four or five grand finals so you can't look past him. He is efficient, his work rate is great, he is just one of those blokes who is pretty much made for Origin."
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While he said the entire NSW team was keen for redemption in the historic June 23 Origin at Perth's Optus Stadium, Vaughan's first priority is helping St George Illawarra to a win over the Sea Eagles on Sunday.
After humbling Canterbury 36-12 last Monday to end a five-match losing streak, the Dragons are just two points behind seventh-placed Manly on 12 points and share eighth spot with four other teams.
"We want to start winning back-to-back games but Manly have got a great forward pack and they are a pretty powerful bunch so it is going to be another tough game," Vaughan said.
"The attitude I have is that I wouldn't be playing rep footy without the Dragons and I wouldn't be doing it without the boys as well so when I come back here I want to put my best foot forward.
"That is the best way to repay the boys and I think that is the attitude you have do have so I will be doing everything I can on Sunday, trying to play my best footy and then worry about Origin after that."