The 95-year-old Nonna spurring Vaughan's Origin tilt
Paul Vaughan's number one supporter won't be among the 80,000-strong faithful baying for a NSW series win at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night.
Instead 95-year-old nonna Marina O'Rourke will be paying homage to her boy in Blue, the grandson whose every move in rugby league has been painstakingly cut up, clipped out, and scrap-booked since he first made waves in Canberra's juniors.
Vaughan's maternal grandmother Marina was welcomed into the Blues fold alongside the rookie prop during the lead-up to Origin I, joining a players' family lunch at the invitation of Brad Fittler.
Fittler has placed serious emphasis on the people who helped this year's NSW contingent reach the game's highest level, with several family-focused events, and a heartfelt tribute to the parents and partners of his squad after their game one triumph at the MCG.
For 27-year-old Vaughan, that support doesn't come any stronger than the Naples-born Italian migrant, who spent over a month at sea to emigrate after World War II. She will be cheering him on from the nation's capital once more come Sunday night.
"Nonna turned 95 last Saturday but she hasn't lost anything, she's still pretty sharp and she's moving around well down in Canberra," Vaughan told NRL.com.
"She comes down to games at Wollongong and can handle that crowd, but ANZ might be a bit much so she'll be watching on TV.
"She keeps all the cut-outs from the papers, she frames them up. She's got a little shrine at home for me which is really cool and she'll be into it this week.
"You see that passion she has and can't help be proud of what you've achieved and that your family is obviously proud of you.
"Having the family there, mum and my two sisters [before Origin I] was great as we're a very close-knit family so everything I do through football is to make them proud and make them happy.
"It was really cool that they were up here and then in the sheds afterwards at the MCG too. They've ridden the wave with me my whole career so it's great to have them there to enjoy the successful times too."
Marina is the reason Vaughan first rose to rep honours with the Azzurri at the 2013 World Cup, earning one of rugby league's better nicknames as the 'Italian Stallion'.
Vaughan will once again come off the bench in Origin II and plans to leave it all on the paddock - a term to be taken literally when his 26-minute game one cameo reduced him to vomiting on the sidelines immediately after coming from the field because of the extent he pushed himself.
While Reagan Campbell-Gillard's broken jaw potentially opens up a starting spot for the Dragons front-rower, Vaughan is more than happy for debutant Matt Prior to start against a Queensland pack stinging from a touch-up in the middle down in Melbourne.
"Matty's a great player, he's won two comps, he's aggressive in his defence.,and he probably suits that starting role," Vaughan said.
"I'm just excited to be in the team and play my role and if that's starting off the bench it doesn't really bother me.
"It's a different role to what I do at Saints, coming on at 20-30 minutes, hopefully I can inject myself there and change a bit of the tempo of the game, just play my natural game."
Game I is done and dusted! Don’t miss Game II of Origin at ANZ Stadium on Sunday 24 June. Click here to get your tickets