Rugby League


NRL: Paul Vaughan backs debutant Shannon Boyd to meet Cowboys' test

He's 192 centimetres, 120 kilograms and the biggest player at a club known for its massive pack.

And fellow Canberra Raiders prop Paul Vaughan says Shannon Boyd won't be intimidated when he makes his NRL debut against North Queensland's Test front-rowers James Tamou and Matt Scott in Townsville on Saturday.

Vaughan is adamant he and one of his closest mates are ''up to the challenge'', despite statistics revealing the Raiders will field the youngest team in the opening round.

Vaughan knows the challenge facing Boyd, having also debuted against the Cowboys in round seven last year.

He passed the test against the world's best prop partnership with flying colours, helping Canberra to a strong win.

Having played alongside Boyd since the Raiders under-18s, Vaughan has no doubt he also won't take a backward step.


Boyd got his chance after representative front-rowers David Shillington and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs were sidelined by injury.

''Boydy and I are up to the challenge, I'm looking forward to taking on a bit more responsibility,'' Vaughan said.

''It was a good test and I preferred it, it's a chance to prove yourself when you're up against such great opposition. If you want to test yourself in first grade, there's no better way to do it than against the two best props in the game.

''I haven't sat down and had a real good chat with Boydy, but you've got to be careful not to burn too much nervous energy during the week.''

The Raiders will field the youngest side in the competition in round one.

Just four players - Terry Campese (29), Dane Tilse (29), Glen Buttriss (28) and Brett White (31) - are over 26 years of age.

Boyd (21), fellow debutant Matt Allwood (21), Anthony Milford (19), Edrick Lee (21) and Jack Wighton (21) boast just 63 NRL games between them.

Wighton will also play his first game at five-eighth, and Tilse admitted it is up to the senior core to step up.

''Without Shillo and Tommy we're a bit inexperienced, but the young guys will do a good job and it's up to us senior guys to lead,'' Tilse said.

''Shannon's been training with the main group for a couple of years now so he feels comfortable in the group.

''They may try and come at him as a young guy making his debut. But you've seen the size of him. I think he'll be able to handle it.''

Evergreen props Tilse, White and Learoyd-Lahrs are all off-contract at the end of the season.

White has no doubt Boyd and Vaughan have the talent to replace that experienced core.

''Without doubt they're the next generation and are learning their trade, but it's a great preview of the club's future,'' White said.

''Probably when the game's a bit closer I'll chat to Boydy, but it's about enjoying yourself.''