DRAGONS prop Paul Vaughan is adamant he can jump straight into the finals cauldron should an untimely ankle injury keep him out of action for the remainder of the regular season.
Vaughan admits he thought the worst when he felt a pop as he was twisted awkwardly in a tackle early in his side’s loss to the Warriors last Saturday. Scans allayed fears his season was over but the disagnosed syndesmosis injury is expected to keep him out for four weeks.
He may make a quicker return, but the 27-year-old said he won’t miss a beat if kept on ice until week one of post-season.
“That won’t be a problem, [with] the rehab crew we have here my fitness will be up to speed but I’m trying to get back before finals,” Vaughan said.
“People that are injured don’t just sit around and do nothing. When you’re injured you probably train harder than the boys on the field to try and get back which is the way it should be. You don’t take any shortcuts there.
“I was a little bit nervous about that at the time because I felt a massive pop and, if you saw the footage, it didn’t look that good.
“I knew I had some bloke around my legs and then I got bent over and my ankle got caught. I was thinking the worst there and I was in a lot of pain at the time.
“I’ll just be doing my rehab as best I can. I’m a pretty quick healer so I’ll be doing everything I can professionally to get back on the field.”
The injury comes at a frustrating time for Vaughan who, in contrast to his side, has found another gear post-Origin, proving one of the Dragons best the past three weeks.
“I’ve felt really good. Coming out of that camp being surrounded by all those world class players, I got a lot of experience out of that and tried to come back to footy and repay the boys by playing good footy,” he said.
“The first two weeks out of Origin I thought I was playing pretty strongly and I was really up for the Warriors game. I felt really good and felt I could’ve made a fair statement in that game and played well.
“That’s just footy, you get caught in awkward positions. You can’t play the game without thinking you’re going to get injured.”
The injury to his star prop couldn’t have come at a worse time for coach Paul McGregor as his side battles a form slump that’s seen them drop four of their last five games ahead of Saturday’s clash with Parramatta.
A loss would see the “choker” chants reach a crescendo but Vaughan is confident his side are still right in the premiership hunt.
“We’ve been on top all year, we’re still in the top four and people are still saying we’re choking and all that sort of stuff,” Vaughan said.
“Last year we got off to a great start and we missed out by a game which was frustrating, this season I don’t really understand [the criticism].
“We’re [in the] top four, we’ve been on top of the comp all year so I don’t think it’s panic stations or crisis mode.
“I don’t think the boys are too worried. With the games we have coming up we should really get back to playing our brand of football.
“We don’t want to make up the numbers in the finals, we want to be competitive and we want to be pushing towards the end of the season and the grand final. All the boys should be striving towards that.”