It’s all but official (although we’ve known it here for a month or so now) that Blake Ferguson will be a Rooster in 2015.
The club has signed him to an off-field role for the remainder of the year in which he will do community work, largely with indigenous communities and with local clubs.
From reports, the Roosters have asked the NRL to register him before June 30 to allow him to play this year, but from those same reports Ferguson will remain de-registered as a player until next year at the earliest.
He has to undergo off-field rehabilitation before the NRL considers that final sign-off allowing him to play.
On paper the signing makes sense: the Roosters will instantly have the most talented backline in the premiership next year with Ferguson at right-side centre along with Jenko, Toops, SKD and RTS. In a vacuum his talent is transformative, but we don’t live in a vacuum.
As such, the signing has caused somewhat of a rift between fans. Admittedly this is only from 26 Rounds’ observations on Twitter and Facebook, but it seems a straight split down the middle regarding his signature. The opinions are pretty clear on both sides: on one hand, he’s a destructive influence and (at time of print) someone who has been convicted of indecent assault. On the other, he deserves the same second chance that everyone should be afforded.
The club is adamant they can reform him. They have cited their track record of turning lives around, including that of origin squad member Jake Friend and former Rooster Todd Carney who, despite having his contract torn up, was twice the man he was when he left than before he arrived, having left with a Grand Final appearance and a Dally M Medal.
Regardless of their record, we are about to find out what they can do to rehabilitate a unique case in Blake Ferguson as early as round one next year.