A year after he was awarded the Rookie of the Year Award and represented Italy at the World Cup, Paul Vaughan continued to propel his career into new heights in 2014 and earned himself a Country representative jersey and a three year contract extension as a result of his tremendous season.
After breaking into the Raiders NRL line-up last year, Vaughan evolved into becoming an integral member of Ricky Stuart’s top 17 from the outset of Round 1 in 2014.
Had it not been for a dubious suspension in Round 15, Vaughan would have played in every game in 2014.
Vaughan’s transition from emerging forward to vital member of the Raiders forward pack was evident as early as Round 2 against the Newcastle Knights at Hunter Stadium.
With the Raiders trailing by four points with just over 10 minutes remaining in the contest, Vaughan's impressive fitness and durability came to the fore when he ably supported some enterprising lead up play by Milford and Croker and outpaced the converging defence to dive over and level scores.
Reece Robinson’s subsequent conversion and a further try to Edrick Lee put the icing on top for the Green Machine.
Without one fragment of a doubt though, Vaughan’s match-winning try against the Melbourne Storm confirmed his newly elevated standing within the Raiders and arguably laid claim to the most memorable moment from 2014.
Again down by four points but this time with just two minutes on the clock, Vaughan sent the parochial crowd at GIO Stadium into absolute mayhem when he picked up a loose ball and stepped multiple times off his right foot, straightened and accelerated 15 metres through a gap to score.
Croker’s conversion not only gave the Raiders the lead for the first time in the match, but stole victory right from the hands of the Storm.
Vaughan’s match-winning try against the Storm not only snared two competition points, but also sealed his selection in the Country Origin team. Vaughan performed admirably in the drawn match and potentially paved the way for higher representative honours.
A local junior from the Gungahlin Bulls club, Vaughan is passionate about his team mates, the fans and the club he grew up supporting.
And off the field, Raiders fans seem to be reciprocating. Vaughan’s popularity with the Raiders faithful was evident was he was chosen by ISC to be the face of the club’s Hulk jersey promotions and advertisements to market the jersey which was worn in Round 21.
On the field though, Vaughan continued to be a serious asset to the Raiders and this was exemplified by his season statistics.
Vaughan was ranked in the top five at the club for line breaks, tackle breaks, average metres and average tackles. He also lands on his elbows and knees more times (182) than any other Raiders player, entailing that he regularly delivers a quick play the ball.
After his terrific season, Stuart was thrilled to announce Vaughan’s resigning at the Meninga Medal.
“I’m very excited about the confidence Paul has shown in the team and the direction we’re going in,” Stuart said. “He’s another local junior and there’s nothing better than having players like Paul at our club as we build for the future.
“He’s been one of our most consistent performers all season and we look forward to him improving his football over the next three seasons and taking his game to the next level.”
“I’ve never wanted to go anywhere or play for anyone else,” added Vaughan. “Canberra is my hometown and the Raiders are my team and I’m grateful for the opportunity they’ve given me to start my career.
“I’m looking forward to the next few seasons, seeing the team improve and become a premiership contender.”
Average Minutes: 48
Try Assists: 0
Try Saves: 0
Line Breaks: 6
Line Break Assists: 1
Tackle Breaks: 37
Average Metres: 128.7
Average Tackles: 23.04