BY any measure, Paul Vaughan should be leading a new dawn for NSW, instead of watching the sunset in Hawaii next week.
After another barnstrorming, eye-catching performance against the Warriors, Vaughan has now run for more than 200 metres three times in 11 games.
He’s barged his way forward for 180m-plus six times, to be second in the NRL’s Dally M medal count and leading the buy-of-the season opinion polls.
But for all the impressive statistics which show his season is superior to Blues big men Andrew Fifita, Aaron Woods and David Klemmer, it mattered little on Monday night.
Coming from Canberra to Wollongong, Vaughan has played fewer minutes than those middle men chosen for NSW this season, but is only eclipsed by Fifita in terms of offloads and tackle breaks.
The other major forward categories, including tackles, all run metres, line breaks and even tries are firmly in Vaughan’s favour, as the panel below indicates.
Instead, of travelling to a week-long camp on the Gold Coast before game one in Brisbane, Vaughan said will be a groomsman at one of his best mate’s wedding in Hawaii. “If I don’t get picked I’ll be disappointed but I’ll be Hawaii so it won’t be too bad. Either situation’s pretty good for me,” Vaughan said last week.
“I think every football player wants to play at the highest level and that is the highest level, State of Origin, so I’d love to be involved in it.”
Berkeley’s Jack Bird will be coach Laurie Daley’s utility player, with Kiama’s Brett Morris on the wing.
Corrimal’s Tyson Frizell, who was a standout in a losing cause last year, is named in the starting team.
Jack de Belin has been chosen as a shadow player, after an outstanding start to the NRL season.
- CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
How the NSW front row stocks stack up (Source: NRL.com statistics)
Minutes: Fifita 597, Klemmer 582, Woods 544, Vaughan 528
Hit-ups: Fifita 157, Vaughan 156, Klemmer 137, Woods 137
All run metres: Vaughan 1729, Fifita 1727, Klemmer 1603, Woods 1547
Tackles: Vaughan 322, Fifita 314, Woods 240, Klemmer 223
Missed tackles: Klemmer 19, Woods 13, Fifita 11, Vaughan 7
Offloads: Fifita 26, Woods 17, Vaughan 8, Klemmer 2
Tackle breaks: Fifita 46, Vaughan 27, Klemmer 18, Woods 8
Line breaks: Vaughan 4, Fifita 2, Klemmer 0, Woods 0
Tries: Vaughan 3, Fifita 1, Klemmer 0, Woods 0.
- STATE OF ORIGIN
QUEENSLAND v NSW
Wednesday, May 31
NSW: James Tedesco, Blake Ferguson, Josh Dugan, Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Aaron Woods, Nathan Peats, Andrew Fifita, Josh Jackson, Boyd Cordner ©, Tyson Frizell. Interchange: David Klemmer, Wade Graham, Jake Trbojevic, Jack Bird. Shadow players: Matt Moylan, Jordan McLean, Jack de Belin.