St George Illawarra have announced that Paul Vaughan has extended his stay at the Dragons until the end of the 2021 NRL Telstra Premiership season.

Vaughan has played every game for the Dragons since joining at the beginning of the year, having played 95 games in the NRL overall.

The Italian international’s strong season so far has seen him play for the NRL All Stars and Country Origin, while he remains in contention to play State of Origin for New South Wales in the coming weeks.

The 26-year-old said re-signing so soon after joining the Dragons has done wonders for his confidence.

“At the start of the season I wanted to start afresh and prove myself all over again. That was one of the biggest things I needed to do,” Vaughan said.

“I think I’m halfway to doing that – I just need to keep playing consistent football.

“I’ve always said I wanted to stay here for as long as I can so with this deal I won’t be off-contract again until I’m in my 30s.”

St George Illawarra Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward said Vaughan’s extension was crucial for future success.

“We’ve identified him as a future leader and we’ve also been impressed by the way he’s integrated and interacted with the younger forwards,” Millward said.

“Paul has been a tremendous acquisition to the Dragons. By re-signing him, it was a good opportunity to get stability in our forward pack and have that platform there for our halves.”

Vaughan’s re-signing is an additional positive for the Dragons following Russell Packer’s decision to take up a four-year deal at another NRL club from next season.

Millward said the Dragons’ decision not to match the four-year deal was largely due to the younger players coming through the club’s development pathways.

Vaughan’s decision to remain follows the likes of Jack de Belin, Jacob Host, Blake Lawrie, Reece Robson, Luciano Leilua and Tyson Frizell re-signing with the Dragons in recent months.

They will be joined by Tariq Sims, Hame Sele, Josh Kerr, Leeson Ah Mau, Cameron McInnes and Joel Thompson at the Dragons beyond the 2017 season.

“We were definitely keen to keep Russell, he is having a great season and is a great contributor to our club,” Millward said.

“We believe that we made him a good three year offer but respect and understand his decision to take up an offer elsewhere, and know that he’ll give his best for the remainder of the season.”

This was first published on the St George-Illawarra Dragons website