Raiders prop Paul Vaughan trains with Country on Thursday. Photo: Getty Images
Rising star Paul Vaughan wants to remain at the Canberra Raiders and is keen to extend his contract beyond next season.
Vaughan has been rewarded for his impressive start to the year with a maiden representative call-up to the Country team for Sunday's match with City in Dubbo.
The 23-year-old Gungahlin junior is in just his second season in the top grade and has 26 NRL games under the belt. The front-rower turned plenty of heads with his performances at last year's World Cup for Italy and has carried that form to the Raiders.
He has another year to run on his deal before he comes off-contract, but is hoping he can come to an agreement with the Raiders before he is allowed to talk to rival clubs from November 1.
"I would really like to extend and stay in Canberra as long as I can,'' Vaughan said.
"Growing up here, all I wanted to do was to play for the Raiders. If they put anything towards me, hopefully I can take care of it pretty quickly.''
The Raiders have re-signed several of their key players in the early part of the season. Two-time player of the year Shaun Fensom, Joel Edwards, Jack Wighton, Shannon Boyd and experienced prop Dane Tilse are among those who have signed new deals. Centre Matt Allwood is also close to receiving a contract extension with the Raiders.
"It's good to keep the boys together for as long as you can,'' Vaughan said. "We're building something special in Canberra and I want to be a part of that. We're trying to stick together and the more games we play together the better we'll be.''
Vaughan is one of three Raiders in the Country team alongside Wighton and utility Josh McCrone, while Fensom is 18th man.
After making an impact at the World Cup, Vaughan set himself the lofty goal during the pre-season of breaking into the Country side.
"In the back of my head I did because I like to set myself high goals so I've got something to work to and strive for,'' he said. "I didn't think I had much chance, but I still set that goal for myself. It was pretty surprising when I got told and I'm very stoked to be involved.''
Vaughan has come down from the immense high of scoring the match-winning try against the Melbourne Storm to a week later being a part of a Raiders side thrashed 54-18 by Manly.
He said the team didn't celebrate too hard after its big win over the Storm, and hoped the Brookvale Oval debacle would be the reality check the Raiders needed to get themselves back on track as they search for consistency.
"It was pretty embarrassing, that game against Manly,'' Vaughan said.
"It was difficult because there was a good feeling around the place after the Melbourne game and we've struggled in back-to-back games. As soon as we get back on Monday, we'll get back to Raiders headquarters with the boys and start preparing for our next game against the Warriors in New Zealand.''