Newly re-signed Roosters centre Blake Ferguson says if the baby son he and his partner are expecting in mid-October happens to arrive two weeks early, he would have no hesitation in skipping a grand final to be there for the birth.
Ferguson also says his impending first-time fatherhood and settled off-field life with partner Bianca have helped him mature as a person, contributing to his good on-field form this year and culminating in an announcement this week that he had inked a new two-year contract extension at the Roosters.
Speaking after the announcement of his new deal outside a Roosters gym session on Wednesday, Ferguson – whose own father wasn't around when he was young – vowed not to make the same mistakes with his own son.
"I won't play in the 'GF' if he comes early, I'll tell you. I won't be missing my son's birth," Ferguson insisted.
"My dad was never there when I was born, I want to be different. I want to be there every step of the way."
Following seven straight wins, a grand final berth is a serious possibility for Ferguson and the third-placed Roosters, although the 25-year-old wasn't getting too far ahead of himself.
He also said he was looking forward to becoming a father.
"I reckon I'll be a good dad, I can't wait to be a dad... He's due the 16th of October," he said.
Ferguson said he never had any doubts about wanting to stay at the Roosters after the love and loyalty the club had showed him, and vowed to now show them the same loyalty in return.
The Roosters threw Ferguson a lifeline after he was sacked by former club Canberra in late 2013 for an incident in a Cronulla nightclub earlier that year, costing himself his spot in the NSW Origin team and an eventual 18-month ban from the NRL.
He joined the Roosters on a training-only basis last year before the NRL agreed to register his contract for 2014.
After some promising early form a serious foot injury put him out of action for more than two months but he has since returned to something like his devastating best, highlighted by powerful solo tries against the Bulldogs and Warriors in recent weeks.
"I love it here, this is the only place I want to be because they've shown me love. They showed me loyalty at the start and now it's my turn to show them loyalty," Ferguson said of his new deal.
"I've got a little family on the way so I've got to look after them, that's what it's all about for me.
Ferguson says a lot of thoughts went through his mind when the foot injury first happened.
"I was pretty upset and a little bit depressed to be honest, not a bad depressed but I thought 'what am I going to do, if this doesn't work out then where am I going to go,' I was back down to square one. It was a good test mentally for me and I think that's probably helped me out."
He insisted he was a more rounded player now than when he was sacked by Canberra.
"I'm more mature now which makes it a lot easier to understand different points of view, it's not just my way or the highway, it's what's best for our club. That's what I try and do every week and every day is what's best for our club.
"A lot of people have helped me out along the way but it's probably myself that's realised I have to grow up as a bloke to be a better person because the spotlight's pretty tough."
Ferguson's teammate Boyd Cordner said he was delighted by Ferguson's extended deal.
"I just heard about the news before and really happy to have Fergo on board for another couple of years," he said.
"He's added a lot to this team and it's a credit to himself, he deserves it.
"From where he's come from to be playing the footy he has been, it looks like he hasn't been away from the game and also with that injury as well, to get back on the field and to be at the top of his game it's a real credit to himself and I'm really happy to have him on board."