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Ferguson latest NRL star sacked by Raiders

Canberra won't stand in the way of Blake Ferguson being picked up by another NRL club in 2014 after he became the third high-profile star to be sacked by the club in recent seasons.
Ferguson latest NRL star sacked by Raiders
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, Sept 6 AAP - Canberra won't stand in the way of Blake Ferguson being picked up by another NRL club in 2014 after he became the third high-profile star to be sacked by the club in recent seasons.

Ferguson on Friday joined good mate Josh Dugan and Dally M medal winner Todd Carney as Raiders casualties - the termination of his contract rubber-stamped after he failed to front a board meeting to explain his erratic behaviour.

And what has become a cruel sight for Raiders fans - with both Carney and Dugan earning NSW Origin jumpers following their departure - looks like being repeated next season.

Raiders chief executive Don Furner said Ferguson was free to do what he liked, though a final decision on his rugby league return rests with the NRL, who will assess his status upon request by a future employer.

Furner's disappointment was obvious as he addressed the media on Friday, but it did not extend to bitterness with regard to Ferguson's future.

"You'd rather see that talent be shown on the field than be wasted elsewhere," Furner said.

"I hope that he gets his life back in order and gets back playing footy.

"No-one gets any pleasure out of this.

"He's an outstanding talent, he was great to watch.

"I would have loved to see him finish his career here."

Added NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle: "In light of the club's action and the circumstances that exist involving the player, it is unlikely the NRL will consider registering any new contract without first undertaking a full review of his situation."

Carney, sacked by Canberra in 2008, was forced to spend 2009 playing park football before returning with the Sydney Roosters in 2010 - where he was named the game's best player.

Sacked in March, Dugan was back in the NRL with St George Illawarra by May.

Furner said the club was aware Ferguson would not attend Friday's board meeting, the star centre having gone AWOL three weeks ago.

He resurfaced on Wednesday alongside mentor Anthony Mundine - the two engaging in a bizarre press conference where Ferguson sat silent as Mundine answered questions about his protege's future.

The latest development continues a rollercoaster year for the 23-year-old.

He was stood down for one week when he skipped a rehabilitation session to drink Breezers atop a Canberra rooftop with Dugan - an incident which confirmed Dugan's departure.

He returned to earn his first Origin jumper in June, and after gaining selection for game two of the series, was thrown out of the Blues squad following a drinking session with Dugan.

A assault charge stemming from an alleged incident with a female patron at a Cronulla nightspot on the evening in question is still before the courts.

Suspended by the NRL, Mundine took Ferguson under his wing, during which time rumours of his desire to get out of Canberra surfaced.

He returned to play one game against the Sydney Roosters in round 22, but after being ruled out with injury the following weekend, he failed to return to Canberra.

"We were left with very little option," Furner said.

"We worked tirelessly with Blake, knew he had some off-field issues.

"We had a plan in place towards the end of last year.

"We went through another plan with the NRL and their integrity unit in terms of counselling and support and in the end it just became untenable."

The club's decision didn't seem to upset Ferguson's teammates, who watched as their season and star player's future unravelled almost simultaneously.

"To be honest, it's probably the best thing for the club," retiring veteran Shaun Berrigan said.

"Blake's been nothing but dramas this year for the club.

"I'm sure the club will move on.

"No player is bigger than the team. The team is the most important thing."


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