Blake Ferguson: from Japan troubles to loving Lancashire lifestyles inside of turbulent yr | Rugby league

Blake Ferguson can’t assist however burst into laughter when requested if he idea his occupation would play out this fashion. The former Kangaroos winger’s rugby league adventure has taken a novel and occasionally arguable trajectory however even through the ones requirements, as he adjusts to lifestyles as a participant in England’s 2d department – the place nearly all of the golf equipment are part-time and a few crowds slightly succeed in 1,000 – it’s possibly unsurprising when Ferguson provides himself a second to replicate on how he has reached this level.

“I wouldn’t have thought I’d be here, that’s for sure,” Ferguson admits. After all, it used to be simplest this time final yr Ferguson used to be an ordinary in a Parramatta Eels aspect that reached the NRL finals, however so much has came about since then. That contains an ill-fated stint in Japanese rugby union membership NEC Green Rockets, which ended with the 32-year-old spending a month in prison in Japan after being arrested for alleged ownership of cocaine, earlier than being launched.

Ferguson is loth to talk about the finer issues of that saga an excessive amount of, however after in the end returning to Australia previous this yr and failing to safe an NRL contract, he had, through his personal admission, determined he used to be “semi-retired”. “I wasn’t really bothered about getting a full-time playing contract and I was actually getting ready to start looking for an actual job,” he says. “But then the call came in.. and here we are.”

That name Ferguson refers to used to be from Championship membership Leigh Centurions, who made him an be offering to go back to taking part in on a momentary contract, nestled clear of the Sydney highlight in a Lancashire the town the place the inhabitants slightly exceeds 40,000 folks. “I was transitioning into a different part of life and looking forward to it, but the opportunity to keep playing was something I decided to ultimately explore,” he says.

“It’s been really refreshing coming here. We’ve a great owner, the coaching staff are fantastic and it’s been so amazing to come here and experience something new and something different with my family, who have come over too. It was important for me to get the right club, and it’s great to get the love back for rugby league.” Ferguson’s affect used to be quick, scoring 4 tries on his debut towards Workington Town. He even performed at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in May as Leigh gained the 1895 Cup, a contest reserved solely for groups out of doors of Super League.

Yet this is all a a long way cry from each the lifestyles Ferguson skilled on the best of the sport within the NRL, and the lifestyles he used to be about to embark on had that decision by no means arrived from Leigh to restore his rugby league occupation. “I was going to go into the coal mining industry,” the winger laughs. “I had an interview back home about the job before I came over here, around three weeks before in fact so it was getting pretty close.

“I’d basically got the job but the chance to come here and keep playing, explore Europe, and get the buzz back for playing the game. It was what I needed. It’s been an absolute breath of fresh air too and I’m really glad I’ve done it. We didn’t get as far as locking down the specific job I was going to be doing in the mines just outside Sydney, but it was definitely going to be different to what I’d been used to.”

Ferguson would be the greatest superstar on display this weekend on the Summer Bash, the similar of the NRL’s Magic Weekend, the place all groups play in the similar stadium at the identical weekend. But as he surveys the environment in West Yorkshire the place he’s going to make his newest look as a Leigh participant, the query must be requested: what does the longer term grasp past 2022? Leigh are the favourites for promotion to Super League, and the Centurions are willing to stay him and lengthen their blossoming courting right into a 2d season with a membership and a the town that experience taken him to their center.

Does taking part in in Europe’s elite festival lure him? Or has he now not but given up hope of crafting some way again into the NRL? “We’ll see what happens,” he says. “At the moment we’re focussing on footy, my agent does everything for me in that regard and it doesn’t worry me. I came here to enjoy myself and get the buzz back and it’s been exactly that: really enjoyable. Everyone in Lancashire is really nice, you can go out for walks, say hello to people.. it’s been a great change.

“All that stuff from my past is behind me now I hope. It’s been good over here to get a fresh start. It’s been a breath of fresh air, seeing different faces and experiencing different things. Let’s enjoy the next 10 weeks with Leigh and worry about the future then.”

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