Reports are emerging that supposedly reformed bad boys Blake “Greasy Fingers” Ferguson and Josh “More Tatts Than Trys” Dugan were out having their own team building session at a nearby hotel in the days prior to State of Origin game III. Let me get out in front of this and state that I am not an advocate of a total alcohol ban, I think they’re an unreasonable and ineffective band aid on a potentially larger issue. I am, however, an advocate for professionalism and this act, regardless of the magnitude, reeks of disinterest and disrespect. To put it simply, if I had to make a big presentation at a work meeting with 16 colleagues on Wednesday, I wouldn’t be out bending the elbow while the rest of them were putting in work at the office over the weekend.
The results of the game were telling. Dugan was limp and ineffective, admittedly as were many others in the side, and Ferguson bled trys. He was caught out of position continually and could barely muster a hustle as early as 10 minutes into the game, handing Queensland’s talented but inexperienced 2 game rookie winger his first representative hat trick. In a time when New South Wales is starved for positives and couldn’t muster a fairytale result with the entire collected works of Hans Christian Anderson, one of our own players is actively gifting them to the opposition.
What stings me on a personal level regarding Ferguson is the contempt that he’s shown here to his club mates from the Roosters. Boyd Cordner is the deserving captain of the New South Wales squad and should, with luck, hold that position for a number of years. His leadership will undoubtedly face increased scrutiny not just for the anaemic performance turned in by the Blues, but also for these off field antics. Mitchell Pearce is the most maligned player in the New South Wales team by a considerable margin, he is also the longest serving Blues half back and after 17 games, is still chasing his first series win. You are invited to continue to cast speculation on his abilities or stability under pressure, but he was one of the very few New South Welshmen to absolutely bust his gut in search of a win for 80 minutes last Wednesday night. Floundering behind a pair of starting props that couldn’t crack 150 meters gained between the pair of them all night, he also had to contend with this pair of muppets to his right who would’ve been outclassed in the under 16’s game earlier in the night.
In 2016 Queensland were confronted with a situation not too dissimilar where following an unsanctioned night out, members of their emerging players squad were deemed ineligible for selection for 12 months. Granted New South Wales are contending with two starting players just days away from the deciding game, but I cannot comprehend why a similar path was not followed. Especially with Jack Bird on the bench, screaming for as much game time as can be made available , ready to slot into centre and ol’ Tommy Turbo at 18th man begging for a wing spot. In light of the Blues half-hearted efforts and the ensuing result, you can’t argue we would’ve performed any worse.