Sydney Roosters star Blake Ferguson met with Newcastle coach Nathan Brown on Tuesday for the first time to discuss his playing future with Ferguson’s former teammates at the Knights urging the club to make a play for him.
Less than a fortnight after spearheading the Roosters to an 18-16 win over the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium, the off-contract Ferguson was back in Newcastle for a look around the city and the club’s Mayfield training base.
It is understood he met with Brown over lunch as the Knights contemplate whether to offer the controversial Kangaroos winger a deal for next season.
“There have been no negotiations at this stage and I don’t have an offer from the Knights,” Ferguson’s manager Sam Ayoub told the Newcastle Herald.
“I have spoken to the club and they said they have an interest but that is the extent of my discussions with them. There has been nothing about length of contract, money or the level of interest other than to ask what is Blake doing next year.”
Neither Brown or Knights CEO Phil Gardner could be contacted last night but it has been a policy of the coach and head of football Darren Mooney that any potential new recruit must be prepared to come to Newcastle for a meeting and a look around before serious negotiations kick off.
Given Ferguson’s chequered off-field past, there remain some within the club wary of bringing him to Newcastle but former teammates are adamant he has “grown up” after giving up alcohol late last year.
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Ex-Roosters utility Connor Watson said Ferguson is exactly the type of player the Knights should be going after.
“I’d love to see him come up here – he’s awesome,” Watson said.
“He’s in a really good mindset at the moment Fergo, he’s really focused. There are players you just love to play with and he is definitely one of them.
“You see the guy when you are in the trenches and the ball has just been turned over and he’s like ‘give me the ball, I want the ball’.
“He lives for those moments and loves the hard stuff and you just have to look at his stats at the moment to know the head-space he is in. He’s running for over 200 metres a game which is unbelievable.
“If you have a player like that in your team, getting you on the front foot like he does, it’s a massive help.”
Watson claimed Ferguson had really cleaned up his act off the field and turned his life around.
“I think he has grown up heaps. He’s got two kids now and he hasn’t had a drink all year so it just shows you how committed he is to turning his life around,” Watson said.
“Look, he’d be awesome up here and like I said, having someone next to you who always wants the ball in those key moments and will do anything to get you out of trouble – they’re the teammates you want.
“You’ve only got to look at what he did to us a few weeks ago when we played them – he killed us up here.”
Other former Roosters teammates at the Knights, Mitchell Pearce, Aidan Guerra and Shaun Kenny-Dowall, all openly share the same opinion of Ferguson.
“I’ve had a few chats to him and he is pretty excited but he is going to have to decide for himself,” Kenny-Dowall said.
“He’s a good friend of mine and a good bloke and a great football player so it will be interesting to see what happens.
“I love him and what we are creating here, we are building a really good culture that Fergo would fit into and be a part of.
“He can play fullback and centre and wing and averages around 200 metres a game and we would be silly not to want him here.”