Vaughan ready for Raiders' leadership
With Dane Tilse bidding farewell to the NRL this week, aggressive prop Paul Vaughan has put his name forward to lead from the front for the Raiders as they gear up for an intriguing clash against reigning premiers South Sydney in Cairns.
As the Raiders look to make it three wins from four games, the Rabbitohs are searching for their first win in three weeks.
While Vaughan has one eye on the Rabbitohs, the 23-year-old maintained he is looking to fill "the big hole" and legacy the 200-game Raider Tilse has left.
"Tilsey is a very hard working player and hopefully I can adapt to his game and fill Tilse's spot which he has left behind," Vaughan said.
"I always have gone to the bigger boys [like Tilse] to draw from their experience and stuff so we have never had any problems with our big boys in the front row.
"But now I'd like to take that leadership on. And I'm sure [Shannon] Boydy will like to take that on too, being one of the younger front-rowers in the team."
Averaging 162.2 metres and 22.3 tackles after appearing in every Raiders game so far this year, Vaughan's consistency holds him in good stead to achieve his leadership goals.
It's a goal which could benefit another objective on his to-do list: earning a Country Origin jumper for the second-straight year after making his debut from the bench in 2014.
"It has been one of my goals since before the season started to get the Country jersey again," Vaughan said.
"I think I've been playing pretty consistent football so I'll be stoked if I can get it and I'll definitely put in a good performance when I can."
Another Raider who is keen for a Country Origin jumper is lock Shaun Fensom, who has declared himself a certain starter for the clash with the Rabbitohs after missing Canberra's historic 22-point comeback against the Wests Tigers.
"I'm fully fit and ready to go. It's going to be good, we're gaining confidence the more games we play," Fensom said.
"To come back from that deficit on the weekend, it's going to give us a lot more confidence heading into our clash with the Rabbitohs."
A good game against the Rabbitohs will only boost Fensom's chances, and while he had no troubles making NRL.com's Country Origin team, NSW coach Laurie Daley and Country coach Trent Barrett may have other ideas.
Either way, Fensom said he'd play if it meant "playing on one leg" after being overlooked for a spot in Barrett's team his entire career.
"It would be great to be in that side and playing. Last year I got away with 18th man but it would certainly be better to play a game in that Country side," Fensom said.
"I think it definitely deserves its place on the calendar. All the country boys love getting out there and promoting rugby league to the wider community.
"I'd put my hand up to play on one leg even if others don't want to play, they obviously need to get their priorities straight."