Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has commended star centre Blake Ferguson for the way he has handled himself after being named earlier in the week to make his Kangaroos debut on May 6 against the Kiwis at Hunter Stadium.
Ferguson produced his best game of 2016, scoring three tries as the Roosters routed the Knights 38-0 at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night in a game that saw Mitchell Pearce make his return to the NRL.
The signs were ominous early on for the Knights as Ferguson almost scored inside three minutes, but he had to wait until the 17th minute to cross for his first before adding two more tries in the 65th and 68th minutes.
It was a stellar showing from the 26-year-old who also ran for 148 metres after being shifted to the wing midway through the first half after teammate Joe Burgess was floored by an ugly tackle from Knights forward Korbin Sims.
Robinson said the maiden international call-up had a profound impact on Ferguson who acknowledged the journey he had been on after being stood down from the NRL in 2013 and subsequently missed the entire 2014 season before debuting for the Roosters the following year.
"He was so excited when he found out," a proud Trent Robinson recalled.
"You normally see in a guy that's excited and jumps around, but it sort of hit him somewhere deep for Blake when he found about it, so that was really good to see.
"He talked to me about how he knew he got the opportunity to play there by the way that he's come back and the players around him.
"He really wanted to play well tonight and to get three tries was a nice way to go into next week, and obviously Mal will be happy because he had to go to right wing pretty quickly. He hasn't played there for a long time but he got 65-70 minutes out there.
"There's playing and then there's performing so that's the next step. This isn’t the finish. Now it's about performing for Australia. He knows that but it's been good to watch."
Robinson credited the NRL for giving Ferguson a second chance while also paying special mention to his family for helping him turn his life around on and off the field.
"He's one of those guys that you could see the path he was going to be on, and that's where I gave a rap to the NRL about the choice they made and the change they got out of Blake," the Roosters coach continued.
"The decision he had to make out of that break to say 'look, I'm going to take my life in a certain direction' and then Bianca, his partner, and Harlo (his son) have added to that even again.
"It's good to see when people change like that and then get a reward to play for Australia."