Dragons prop Paul Vaughan is ready to carry the torch for NSW in the must-win second State of Origin game in Perth, in the absence of injured enforcer David Klemmer.
Blues coach Brad Fittler was left with some selection headaches after the series opener, compounded by Klemmer, who played 51 unbroken minutes in Brisbane, suffering a hand injury set to leave him sidelined for three or four weeks.
Vaughan was also a standout in the 18-14 loss after NSW led 8-nil at half-time, but he knows there's a void to fill in Klemmer's absence.
"I was devastated for him," Vaughan said.
"Klem is one of the best front-rowers getting around in the comp.
"I look up to him a bit, I like to look at the way he trains, he's got a huge motor, so I try and match what he does.
"Someone's going to have to step up to that workload he has, there's big shoes to fill ... I want to increase my workload as well."
Vaughan admits playing bigger minutes would require multiple stints and adding to the pressure on him is the inexperience of the NSW pack, where Payne Haas and Cameron Murray made their Origin debuts in game one.
The 28-year-old endorsed the selection prospects of Melbourne premiership player Dale Finucane and Penrith's Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who made his Origin debut last year.
Brisbane's Matt Lodge and Thirroul junior and two-time NRL premiership player Matt Prior are also in the mix.
The squads for game two, to be played at the new stadium in Perth on June 23 will be named after the Dragons clash with Manly at Brookvale on Sunday.
Vaughan admitted it has been difficult approaching Origin this year on the back of five straight losses, in contrast to the 2018 campaign when the Dragons won nine of their first 11 games.
St George Illawarra produced a pressure-relieving 36-12 win over cellar-dwellers the Bulldogs on Monday.
They now face a crucial showdown with Manly, who are seventh overall with a 7-6 record, ahead of the Dragons at 5-7 in 10th.
Vaughan will square off against NSW teammate Jake Trbojevic, as well as his brother and Manly fullback Tom, who could earn a Blues recall on the wing.
He's adamant he will be fearless approaching the Sea Eagles clash.
"The attitude I have is I wouldn't be playing rep footy without the Dragons," Vaughan said. "When I come back here I want to put my best performance in, that's the best way to repay the boys. I'll be doing everything I can Sunday arvo to play my best footy and worry about the (Origin) task after that."
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