Jason Croker played 318 games for the Raiders. Photo: Cameron Spencer
Canberra Raiders legend Jason Croker has called on Blake Ferguson to prove he respects his teammates to end the NRL season after failing to show up at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.
But the Croker - the most capped player in Raiders history - believes Ferguson’s disinterest in Canberra’s finals charge is an ‘‘obvious’’ sign he will move back to Sydney next year.
Ferguson didn’t attend the Raiders’ 36-22 loss to Manly last week and was instead in Sydney.
the 23-year-old is set to pay the price for his tumultuous season when he is likely to be overlooked for selection in the team on Tuesday.
Blake Ferguson must prove he respects his teammates, Croker said. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
The Raiders have two games left in the season and need to win both to remain a mathematical chance to make the play-offs.
Ferguson has played just one game since June following being charged with indecent assault in Sydney and injuries.
Croker, who played 318 games for Canberra, said Ferguson’s absence at the Manly game
‘‘The Raiders have shown him a fair bit of loyalty and respect, but he’s not showing the club any,’’ Croker said.
‘‘He obviously doesn’t want to be here. It’s a shame, he’s a great player and not a bad lad. But he’s obviously got other priorities.
‘‘I guess it’s how young blokes operate these days. The way it’s going is he won’t be here next year, you could see that when he wasn’t here on the weekend.
‘‘I can’t imagine the players would be happy with him so we’ll just have to see.’’
Raiders management granted Ferguson leave to be in Sydney for a family matter instead of being at the Manly game.
But his teammates didn’t know about his absence until he was photographed with former Raiders bad boy Todd Carney at the Clovelly Hotel on Saturday night.
If Ferguson isn’t picked in the last two games of the regular season, it’s likely his Raiders career will be over.
The NSW State of Origin star has a clause in his contract which allows him to get out of the final two years of his deal.
Ferguson had the clause put in so he could assess his career options should David Furner no longer be the coach. Furner was sacked last week with a year left on his contract.
‘‘It’s a team sport and you’ve got to work together if you want to be successful,’’ Croker said.
‘‘The fans are missing out because Ferguson doesn’t want to be here and that’s the biggest shame.’’
The Raiders have a four-man sub committee searching for a new coach.
Raiders great Mal Meninga will join board members David Thom and Allan Hawke and Canberra chief executive Don Furner.
Croker hoped the search would deliver a strict coach to resurrect the Raiders’ culture.