Fresh out of emerging Blues camp, impressive Raiders prop Paul Vaughan says the experience has given him the focus and desire to target a NSW Origin jumper.
Vaughan readily admits it may be tough to break into a winning NSW team with a host of star forwards, but at 23 years of age and the majority of the Blues' 2014 pack now over 30, he wants to put himself in the position to join the fray whenever there is an opening.
Fresh off a 2013 World Cup campaign with Italy where he was the best forward in the tournament for run metres throughout the group stages, Vaughan went from strength to strength in 2014, making his Country Origin debut and being named in the emerging Blues camp.
"It was a good little year for me last year. Hopefully I can have another good season; that's what I'm working towards is the rep footy side of things," Vaughan told NRL.com.
"I've just got to work hard and put my head down – it sounds like a cliché but if you're playing good footy then you put a foot in the door for the rep sides and that sort of stuff.
"I just went away for the camp on the weekend for the emerging [Blues] squad and there's a lot of good young boys that were part of that squad."
Vaughan said he had written down his goals for the year and while he was reluctant to share them he said rep football is a focus.
"I'm always pretty big on goals, I like to write them down at the start of the year, obviously rep footy is a big thing and just playing the best I can each week. I'm not going to make any outrageous comments about what I want to do but I've got personal goals that I have each year and I like to set them pretty high so I've got something to work towards."
Vaughan said the future of the Blues is looking good, not least of all in the forwards. He was named in the emerging squad with other big men such as new Kangaroo David Klemmer, Storm recruit Dale Finucane and Titans prop Ryan James.
"They're in a good position with the players that are coming through at the moment. It was good to learn about the culture and be put in a room with the calibre of players that were there. It was a good day for me and [Raiders back] Jacky Wighton to go up there and learn about the passion and culture of everyone that plays for the Blues so it was a good day.
"You can take a lot of confidence away from it and that's what I'm hoping to do. I just want to have a good start to the season and hopefully that puts me in the door for Country and I keep it going from there."
He noted it was also good for the Canberra club to have players on the representative radar; both Wighton and new skipper Jarrod Croker were a part of the 2014 Blues extended squad while new recruits Josh Hodgson (England), Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Sia Soliola (both New Zealand) and Sisa Waqa (Fiji) are all internationals. They join ex-Kangaroo Dave Shillington and incumbent Kangaroo Josh Papalii on a roster that is looking significantly stronger than it did in 2014.
"We're in a good position at the moment [having some representative players at Canberra], we're due for a good year, we're getting busted out on the field [at training] and we believe we've got a strong squad of players that can achieve good things so hopefully we can show that out on the field this year," Vaughan said.
"We're a pretty young squad mixing with a couple of experienced blokes. It's a good mix. Hopefully Mitch Cornish has a good year in the halves this year with Blake Austin. It's an exciting time for the club with all the good young players coming through."