A gutted Paul Vaughan admits it has killed him to watch the NRL since his infamous barbecue, with the former Kangaroos prop vowing to turn his image around at Canterbury.
Vaughan finalised the details of his one-year deal with the Bulldogs on Wednesday, desperate to repay the club's decision to resurrect his NRL career.
The 30-year-old expects to be able to play as soon as round one, with the eight matches he will miss this season after being sacked by St George Illawarra to count as his ban.
His decision to hold an illegal barbecue during Sydney's lockdown caused widespread anger, with the implications still being felt on the Dragons' season.
The prop said he had watched their two losses since as their season threatens to unravel.
"I have been tuning into every Saints game, still really close with the boys," Vaughan said.
"I still keep in contact with a lot of them. It has been killing me to watch what they are going through at the moment.
"It's been extremely difficult. I wish I was able to help (the Dragons) in some way.
"All I can really do is give them a call here or there and lend an ear or shoulder to lean on.
"They are going through a bit of a tough patch at the moment and it's difficult to watch. But I am sure they will be okay."
Vaughan admitted he had not stopped thinking about his decision to host the team barbecue, that saw $305,000 in fines handed out and 12 other players cop one-game bans.
"I won't lie, it's been an extremely difficult couple of weeks," Vaughan said.
"My wife is 33 weeks pregnant at the moment and is the strongest one in the household.
"Hindsight is a beautiful thing. I would give anything to go back and change the decisions I made that afternoon."
Vaughan's move to Canterbury comes after he played under Trent Barrett at NSW Country level, and follows forward Tevita Pangai's signing.
Matt Dufty, Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Burton have also been signed to improve the club's backline and halves.
But the bubble breach is still set to cost Vaughan, with the Bulldogs deal believed to be worth significantly less money than the $800,000 a season he was on at the Dragons.
But the six-time NSW State of Origin player is desperate to turn his image around and still show he has plenty to offer the NRL.
"I have a lot of trust to win back from the squad and the coaching staff and everyone involved with the Bulldogs and NRL," Vaughan said.
"That is the fist and foremost thing I want to prove.
"I am working towards rebuilding my image which has taken a fair beating.
"I am very thankful for the opportunity the Bulldogs have given me and want to repay that."
Australian Associated Press