Trbojevic puts Tedesco and Ferguson Blues jerseys under threat
When Manly star Tom Trbojevic goes head to head with James Tedesco at Allianz Stadium on Sunday, his opposing fullback won't be the only Rooster who has their NSW Blues jersey on the line.
Tedesco and Ferguson square off with Trbojevic as the Blues hierarchy weigh up a likely three-into-two selection headache for game one.
Blues advisor Greg Alexander said Tedesco had been "very good in recent weeks even though he's still trying to find his rhythm at the Roosters", meaning Ferguson and Trbojevic could well find themselves squaring off for an Origin start on the right flank.
Melbourne flyer Josh Addo-Carr and Raiders youngster Nick Cotric are leading discussions for the vacant left wing spot.
Tedesco has been among the Tricolours' best performers and can't be faulted on effort and work rate since making a big money move from Wests Tigers, with his runs (16.6 a game), average run metres (178.5m) and line breaks (0.9 a game) all on par with his 2017 output.
Tedesco's 233 support runs in eight games have also almost eclipsed his entire 2017 tally (286), though there's no denying he has struggled to find a home in the Roosters' much-maligned attacking structures.
After starting the season in sublime touch, Trbojevic has also battled an ankle injury and Manly's four-game losing run among myriad off-field issues at the club.
With Trbojevic in the Origin discussion for the past 12 months and Tedesco one of the Blues' best last year, Ferguson's own impressive start to 2018 looms as a possible circuit breaker at the NSW selection table.
Alexander, who has joined the Blues this year as an advisor to rookie Origin coach Brad Fittler, said with a host of uncapped players pushing for inclusion, form will be crucial.
"I think we'd all prefer players playing in the positions where they play their club footy," Alexander told NRL.com.
"But there's some footballers that it doesn't matter where they play, they play well and you've just got to have them on the field.
"Both (Tedesco and Trbojevic) have played on the wing, Tom's played rep footy in the centres and he would've been in the side last year if he hadn't gone down before game one. He has been very close in the past.
"... It hasn't been easy for him in those games where Manly has been beaten comprehensively - that makes it hard for a fullback.
"But what it boils down to in terms of Origin, Tom's put his hand up not just this season but last season and the season before."
Ferguson leads the Telstra Premiership with 200 run metres a game, and though he is prone to making costly handling errors, his impressive start to 2018 has coincided with a personal booze ban and an off-season stint in rehab.
"His start to the season across the first month he was the best winger in the comp," Alexander says.
"I've got no doubt that his off-field routine in his life, a good routine, has improved him on the field too.
"He's a great winger to have in Origin too because you have a big body coming out of trouble, and Fergo's been great this year. He's very much a part of the conversation."
Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Tickets available at NRL.com/tickets.