Ferguson's energy ignites Roosters defence
Revitalised Roosters centre Blake Ferguson's match-turning two-try effort against Penrith on Monday night will get plenty of attention but if anything it is the former Origin winger's energy and talk in defence that bodes well for the Tricolours.
Ferguson may have only been called on to make eight tackles but some of them were crucial and his reads rushing out of the line to pressure the Panthers' last-tackle options were a standout.
Even more eye-catching was Ferguson's talk, yelling and clapping his hands in support to boost his side in the defensive line and barking orders to control defensive structures on his edge during a busy night both with and without the ball.
His two tries, three line breaks, 178 metres and seven tackle busts are better suited to the highlight reels but it was his defence that most impressed his captain.
"He's awesome; I notice it more in defence, he's a really aggressive defender, he's always in your ear in defence out there and I think that's his biggest strength at the moment," Roosters skipper Mitchell Pearce said after the game.
"Everyone knows how good he is in attack but I think his defence has been awesome as well."
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said the extra space generated by the Roosters pack had played into Ferguson's hands.
"I thought Blake was really good when he got the opportunities... there was a bit more space there," Robinson said.
"He had a little bit better mindset again this week going into this game about getting back to his [style of] footy.
"He's so keen to play well for us and he's trying so hard to do everything we're asking and then we're just trying to free him up to play his footy as well, and I think we're seeing that bit by bit.
"He didn't just want to come in and score some tries, he's worked so hard to play for us and then Pearcey and Jimmy [Maloney] gave him a bit more space to [allow him to play] his style and we got the rewards tonight."
Five-eighth James Maloney told NRL.com Ferguson had been a valuable addition to the side.
"He's been good for us. He's making carries, it was good to see him get the ball with a bit of space out wide, hopefully we can utilise him a bit and get him some ball in open space a bit more," Maloney said.
"His attitude's tremendous, he's just pumped to be back around footy, he gets on with all the boys. His enthusiasm is infectious, he's jumping out of his skin, he's good value, you can have a laugh at him... We've enjoyed having him here."
Roosters bench prop Dylan Napa lauded Ferguson's approach to training.
"Fergo, he trains that hard and he's that passionate about the way he plays, just to see him get through – that line break in the first half, he deserved that, the last three weeks he's been training for that. I think everyone was pretty stoked to see him get over the tryline twice," he said.