After playing over 200 games in the NRL, forward Paul Vaughan has opted to move to the Super League with Warrington on a two-year contract; watch the Wolves and Leeds Rhinos open the 2023 season live on Sky Sports on Thursday, February 16
Last Updated: 08/12/22 5:26pm
When Paul Vaughan approached his Canterbury Bulldogs team-mate Luke Thompson for advice on a possible move to the Super League, the former St Helens man was somewhat less than enamoured with his potential destination.
Despite the views of the England international, Vaughan subsequently agreed a two-year deal with Saints’ rivals Warrington Wolves in June this year and last month arrived on these shores in time for the club’s second week of pre-season training.
The prospect of playing in the derby matches between Warrington and reigning champions St Helens, who claimed an unprecedented fourth-straight Grand Final triumph in October, is just one prospect the 31-year-old is savouring in his move to Super League – even if Thompson might prefer he was wearing the Red Vee rather than the Primrose and Blue.
“He was pretty biased, which is understandable!” Vaughan told Sky Sports with a laugh, although he did find many of Thompson’s words of wisdom useful.
“I had a fair few conversations with Thommo and he was really helpful with his advice and what he passed on.
“He was obviously at Saints and they’re a pretty strong club. You want to come up against those strong clubs and see how you go, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Prop forward Vaughan’s switch from the NRL to Super League comes after just one season with the Bulldogs, having begun his career with home city club Canberra Raiders where he made 85 appearances between 2013 and 2016, followed by another five seasons with St George Illawarra Dragons.
New Warrington Wolves signing Paul Vaughan on how he ensures he gets the best out of himself every week after joining for the 2023 Super League season
He was part of New South Wales’ State of Origin-winning team in 2018 as well, along with representing Italy – qualifying through his maternal grandmother – in the 2013 and 2017 Rugby League World Cups and earning two caps for Australia in 2019.
The move to northern Cheshire from being near the Sydney beaches has meant something of a lifestyle change for Vaughan and his family too, but they are already settling into life in England as he begins the next chapter of his rugby league career.
“I think it was the right time,” Vaughan said of the move to Warrington. “I was happy with my career in the NRL, and I was extremely lucky to play for as long as I did with the teams I did, so I just thought I’d like to try something new.
“I achieved everything over there I set out to do, and I wanted to come here and experience a new game and test myself against the players here.
I achieved everything over there [in Australia] I set out to do, and I wanted to come here and experience a new game and test myself against the players here.
Paul Vaughan on moving to Warrington
“It’s definitely a bit of a lifestyle change coming from the beaches in the south of Sydney, but me and my family have come with an open mind. We love it here, it’s really beautiful, so it’s been a really good change so far.”
Vaughan is joined in making the move from Australia by his former St George Illawarra team-mate and fellow forward Josh McGuire, with the Wolves’ pack being further beefed up ahead of the 2023 campaign by the signings of Catalans Dragons pair Gil Dudson and Sam Kasiano.
Boosting the strength in the pack has been an area of focus in recruitment for head coach Daryl Powell after a disappointing first year in charge which saw the Wolves finish 11th – their lowest finish in Super League history – and he expects Vaughan to make a significant impact.
“If you look at his stats this year, he’s been outstanding,” Powell told Sky Sports. “He’s a big ball carrier, defends well, moves well and works hard.
Warrington Wolves head coach Daryl Powell explains what Paul Vaughan will bring to the club in the 2023 Super League season
“I had a couple of Zoom chats with him and really like how he comes across as a bloke. We talked all the time about size and being a fearsome pack, and we’ve worked hard to get that in place for next season.”
With over 200 games in the NRL alone under his belt, Vaughan wants to use his experience to help his team-mates and particularly the younger members of the squad as Warrington aim to be back up among the title contenders next year.
Even at 31, he is eager to learn from the players around him too and is excited to be joining the Wolves as they aim to right the wrongs of 2022 – starting with the visit of this year’s Grand Final runners-up Leeds Rhinos to the Halliwell Jones Stadium in the season opener, live on Sky Sports.
“The good thing about the team is the boys in the forward pack are all very experienced, so they have got a lot of knowledge about the game and how it’s played,” Vaughan said.
“I’m eager just to learn and whatever I can share with the boys, I’ll be pretty open to doing that. It’s all about sharing knowledge and trying to help each other out.
“Straight of the bat, you realise the quality of players here is pretty impressive. The players who have stayed on with the club and the ones who have signed have been really impressive.
“It’s exciting to go through that sort of rebuild phase with the club. Hopefully we can change those results and have a successful year next year.”
Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos open the 2023 Super League season on Thursday, February 16 (kick-off 8pm), live on Sky Sports.