The Sydney Morning Herald penned an article over the weekend that threw the Roosters’ hat into the impending Blake Ferguson sweepstakes — provided he gets his head right with a year of bush footy ala what Todd Carney did with the Atherton Roosters in 2009.
The Roosters sources in the article deny that any meeting has taken place, which kind of makes the article useless, but this writer heard the rumblings a month ago after Ferguson shredded the Roosters with two tries and four line breaks in a loss.
According to the article on the SMH website on Sunday:
Having sacked Ferguson on Friday afternoon, the Raiders are firm in their belief the 23-year-old is headed to the Roosters next season. The NRL faces a major test over whether it registers his contract.
There has been widespread speculation Ferguson and his new manager, Sam Ayoub, met Roosters chairman Nick Politis during the week, but club sources deny any meeting has taken place. Roosters officials were impressed with what they saw from Ferguson when he played their side in August in his last match.
They are wary, though, of his baggage. Indecent assault charges still hang over his head from a drunken night with former teammate Josh Dugan after their selection for NSW for Origin II. Should they be become interested, the Roosters would want Ferguson to follow the lead of fellow dumped Raider Carney, who spent a year playing bush football in north Queensland before being allowed to return to the NRL with the Roosters.
There’s a lot of “coulds”, “shoulds” and “woulds” mentioned in the above snippet, and the very fact the journalist’s Roosters sources denied the interest is telling. It’s based seemingly off the belief of Raiders officials and an alleged meeting between Ayoub and Politis — but even if the meeting did take place, Ayoub has plenty more players in his stable other than the recalcitrant three-quarter.
However, there was always the little whisper mid-season when Fergo’s career began to careen off the rails that the Roosters had him on the hit list. This writer heard from a source that the priority marquee signing list was Sonny Bill Williams first (obviously), followed by Israel Folau, followed by Ferguson.
The Roosters even met with Folau five times according to the source and he was reportedly waiting to see what happened with either SBW — who had he left would have freed up salary for 2014 — or whether the proposed marquee player allowance came to fruition, but he eventually signed with rugby union once the World Cup became a real possibility.
While I tend to believe the last month would make any club weary of signing Ferguson, if SBW plays next year but defects in time for the RWC in 2015, the Roosters will have the requisite cap space to make a run at the talented-but-troubled centre should he go bush for a year and get his head space right.
How that would help him get his head right is beyond this writer, although it did work with Carney to some extent. And this writer heard about their interest well before this past month of bizarre behaviour from Ferguson, and not a peep since.
At any rate, it’s doubtful Ferguson would take that much time off without entertaining offers for 2013 should the NRL allow him to play. Reportedly the Bulldogs and Titans are in play, and also the Sharks unless ASADA bites hard, and should he be allowed to play chances are one of them will sign him for next year. The Dogs believe Des Hasler could get the best out of him, while the Sharks believe they’ve had success with wayward talents in the past (see Carney).
Trent Robinson did say that the Roosters were “short one outside back” at the fan forum a month or so ago, and Ferguson is, talent-wise, one of the best in the game. But whether the Roosters would consider him after they’d done so much to clean the club of its drinking culture is unclear — especially after his actions in recent weeks.
Again, that’s a lot of “woulds”, “coulds” and “shoulds”.