How a positional switch cost Ferguson a NSW jumper

Andre Cupido

Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has praised the resolve of Parramatta winger Blake Ferguson after a positional-switch in the lead up to Game One last year cost him a NSW jumper before he fought his way back into contention to play a crucial role.

Ferguson was open about a move to the centres for the Eels and was given the opportunity in their Round 11 clash against the Panthers, but finished the game with three crucial errors alongside his 142m and 17 runs. 

It forced Fittler to overlook Ferguson for the Game One of the 2019 State of Origin series, before he recalled him following the opening 18-14 loss to Queensland. 

Fittler praised Ferguson’s perseverance following his performance against the Panthers as the 30-year-old helped the Eels to two wins in their next three fixtures to rightfully earn a sky blue jumper. 

“It actually came down to a game when Parramatta played Penrith and ‘Fergo’ had decided that he thought he was a better centre,” Fittler told The Selection.

“He ended up dropping four balls and it was the same game Nathan Cleary got Man of the Match and was pushed straight into the team.

“I have to say Blake Ferguson probably got himself out of the team after that game, but in Fergo style, he gained confidence, and his next couple of games were great.”

Ferguson produced two customary hard-working performances for NSW in the 2019 series, recording 170m and four tackle-breaks in Game II, and 161m, six tackle-breaks and one line-break in Game III – that break coming in the dying stages to send James Tedesco over for the series-winning try. 

Fittler says Ferguson can represent NSW for years to come if he continues on the path that has earned him a reputation as being one of the best wingers in the competition. 

“His last two games for State of Origin were incredible,” he said.

“Right down to the point (where) he was taking the ball, beating Corey Norman and coming off a miraculous pass to James Tedesco, and giving me one of the highlights of my life.

“You can only hope that Fergo continues with the lifestyle.

 “And if so, he will be for a Blue as long he wants.”