Paul Vautin : biography
Loyal to his Channel Nine employer, Vautin was a vocal supporter of the Kerry Packer-backed Australian Rugby League during the Super League war which started in 1995. He was considered an inferior replacement for Wally Lewis as coach of the 1995 Queensland State of Origin team and with Queensland having lost the last three consecutive series and being given a handful of young and inexperienced players, Vautin and Queensland were expected to be easy prey for NSW, who could still boast almost half a side of international players. However, his coaching debut took a fairy tale turn when the young Queenslanders, without any of the stars from Super League-aligned clubs, completed a 3–0 series whitewash of New South Wales that year.
With the Super League players available for selection in the 1996 State of Origin series, Queensland were rated a chance of retaining their crown but lost the series 0-3. After losing the 1997 series 1-2, Vautin was replaced as Qld coach the following year by Wayne Bennett.
Vautin made his name in the late 1970s, playing for the Wests Panthers in the Brisbane Rugby League premiership, the Manly Sea Eagles in Sydney, St. Helens in England, Queensland in the State of Origin and the Australia national rugby league team. He finished his playing career with the Roosters in 1991.
Vautin was a "toiler"; a player who does a lot of work in defense. He was also an aggressive and explosive runner of the ball. Never the largest player on the field, Vautin had the respect of his opponents. He was also the type of player who preferred playing to training as part of his fitness program, something that often irked his coaches early in his career (though they also overlooked the fact due to his tireless on-field efforts).
Vautin attended Padua College in Brisbane, where, in a pointer to his later life, he was known as one of the "class clowns". During his school years, Vautin represented Queensland in games against New South Wales on tours to Sydney, with some games played as curtain raisers to State or International games at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
He was graded as an 18-year-old by defending Brisbane Rugby League team Wests as a in 1977, sometimes playing opposite another talented young lock from Valley’s destined for future greatness named Wally Lewis. He was signed by Manly-Warringah club Secretary Ken Arthurson in late 1978 after Arko had viewed a tape of him scoring a 75-metre try from a scrum for Wests, and moved from Brisbane to play for the defending NSWRFL premiers starting in 1979. Vautin also had an offer to join the North Sydney Bears in 1979, but after seeking advice from his father, signed with the 1978 Sydney premiership winners instead.
Under the coaching of Frank Stanton, Vautin was included in the first grade squad for a pre-season tournament in Newcastle at the insistence of Ken Arthurson, despite Stanton not actually wanting the rookie in the team for the tournament as he felt his fitness wasn’t what it needed to be. Vautin won Stanton over after coming on as an injury replacement early in the first game and pulling off over 30 tackles.
After playing Reserve Grade for Manly in the opening round of the 1979 season against St. George at Kogarah Oval, Vautin was used as a replacement in the Sea Eagles first grade game against the Dragons, with the defending premiers going down 34–9. The next week Vautin made his run on debut for Manly in the in a 10-6 win over Newtown at Henson Park. The Sea Eagles couldn’t recapture their 1978 premiership form and finished 7th, one and a half games out of the finals race.
Manly improved to 6th but again finished out of the finals in 1980, but returned to finals action in 1981, going through to the Minor Semi-final where they lost a brutal encounter with Newtown. The semi against the Jets was marred by an all-in-brawl with opposing ‘s Steve Bowden (Jets) and Mark Broadhurst (Manly) shown on television going at it like two prize fighters.
Vautin went on to play in Grand Finals with Manly in 1982 and 1983, going down to Parramatta both times. In 1983, he was voted the Dally M Player’s Player of the year, as well as Representative Player of the Year