The heartbreaking axing from his junior NRL club in Canberra is the fuel driving Paul Vaughan into NSW State of Origin contention.
Vaughan spent the best part of the second half of last season in reserve grade, watching on as the Raiders made an unlikely run at the top four and only eventually recalled due to injuries.
Vaughan was signed with the Raiders until the end of 2017 and had made his name in the lime green jersey since becoming a regular powerhouse up front in 2014.
However his mid-season demotion left him frustrated and in the doldrums, still at a loss to explain how he found himself out of a Canberra team that turned in their best season since 1995.
And while he told AAP last week his demotion under Ricky Stuart had stunted his growth, he now admits a desire to prove the Raiders wrong has sparked what he says is the best form of his career.
"That's a big driving force," Vaughan said.
"I feel as if I have a lot to prove and a lot of people to prove wrong after what happened last year.
"I don't think I was ever in bad form when I was playing at Canberra. I always thought that I was putting in strong performances.
"There's a hunger and will to prove myself at the Saints."
The 26-year-old continues to do his NSW State of Origin chances no harm.
Five days on from being Country's best forward against City, he out ran the likes of Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen on Friday night to post 191 metres in a brutal display against Cronulla.
He also scored once and produced a wonderful offload for the Dragons' other try in their 18-14 loss at UOW Jubilee Stadium.
He's been rewarded with a contract extension at the club that will keep him in the Red V until at least the end of 2021, with the option to extend the deal to 2022 in his favour.
But it's a NSW Origin jumper for the series opener on May 31 which now looms as his biggest bonus, even if Vaughan wants to dismiss such talk as only "external" and "flattering".
If Aaron Woods returns early from a hamstring injury - as he suggested on Friday - Vaughan is likely stuck in a four-way battle between himself, James Tamou, Shannon Boyd and Jake Trbojevic for one bench spot.
Crucially, according to Fox Sports Stats, he leads them all for average metres, line breaks and tackle busts this year, and is second only to Trbojevic in offloads.
"I just need to keep on doing those sorts of performances now because that's what's expected from me," Vaughan said.
"I've set a high bar."