Enigmatic Canberra winger Blake Ferguson is hoping his good form in 2011 will have stuck in fans’ minds when they cast their votes for the Indigenous All Stars side, which will be announced next Wednesday.
With voting now closed Ferguson, who topped the Raiders’ try-scoring list with 13 this season, remains quietly confident of being named in coach Laurie Daley’s 20-man squad for the blockbuster at Skilled Park on February 4.
The Wellington (NSW) junior played strongly in the Indigenous side’s win in the inaugural All Stars clash in 2010 but says he was not surprised when he didn’t make the team this year.
“Yeah I thought that I’d missed out,” he recalls. “I didn’t have a good season [in 2010] so that’s probably why I didn’t get picked… but I had a fair season last year and I’ll be looking to get picked this year.”
However, Ferguson has stiff competition for a wing position with prolific Rabbitohs try-scorer Nathan Merritt and Test winger Jharal Yow Yeh definitely in the mix.
The 21-year-old recalls the lead-up to the 2010 All Stars clash brought back some ‘hero-worship’ memories from his childhood.
“The highlight was just mingling with the little kids at the park… there were probably about 4000 of them!” he said. “Just playing footy with them… teaching them how to tackle.”
One of the most exciting players in Rugby League when in full flight, Ferguson says he’s aware he needs to limit his error count if he’s to achieve his potential in the NRL. He says ball control and sideline awareness will be his focus in 2012 after he tallied a whopping 39 blunders in 2011 – the third most by any player in the NRL.
“Just staying inside the footy field instead of running out [being bundled into touch] and not dropping the ball, basically,” he said. “Probably to stop making so many errors and probably be a little bit heavier… I can’t really put a nail on it or I’d stop doing it straight away, but that’s probably the main thing – stop running out!”
Ferguson joined the Raiders from Cronulla in 2011 keen to unite with Canberra’s brilliant five-eighth Terry Campese – but those plans nosedived when the Raiders’ playmaker picked up a season-ending injury in his first game back in Round 13.
“Yeah he only played about eight minutes, so it’s going to be good to have him back,” Ferguson said. “He brings so much composure to the club and so much hype to the club, so it’s going to be a good year I think.”
Ferguson can’t wait to reap the benefits of Campese’s attacking game.
“Probably his kicking game – it is probably one of the biggest aspects of his game – and his passing game,” he said.
Ferguson said he felt honoured that Raiders’ fans had nicknamed him ‘Chicka’ after a true Indigenous legend of the game, former Raiders great John ‘Chicka’ Ferguson.
“I feel honoured – he was an awesome player… I remember watching replays on Fox Sports about him just killing it in the grand finals. But I’m not ‘Chicka’… I’m ‘Fergo’!”