Daley says Ferguson can overcome demons
Blake Ferguson, right, at training during the week. Photo: Colleen Petch
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NSW coach Laurie Daley concedes Blake Ferguson's latest alcohol-related indiscretion could torpedo the troubled Raiders star's hopes of earning a maiden Sky Blue jersey.
But the Canberra great insists the 22-year-old can overcome his issues and is prepared to mentor Ferguson so he can fulfil his potential.
The Country and Indigenous All Stars representative scored two tries for the Raiders' NSW Cup feeder club Mounties on Saturday after he was stood down indefinitely as part of the Josh Dugan saga.
It's the latest addition to a lengthy rap sheet for Ferguson, who played under Daley in the All Stars game and was named in the NSW Emerging Origin squad.
''He's talented and capable of playing for NSW this year, but off-field behaviour may affect his chances,'' Daley said. ''He has to work out if he wants to be a part of it and get himself sorted.
''I know he's going through some issues and it's going to be an ongoing process.
''He's a good kid, but he's got to learn sometimes when he touches alcohol he can get himself into situations that put him at risk.''
Raiders coach David Furner said Ferguson would remain with Mounties while he was stood down from the NRL squad, which he expected would be for at least a couple of weeks.
While Dugan had his lucrative $650,000-a-season contract torn up for drinking while injured and posting a middle-finger salute on social media, Ferguson was spared the sack because he showed remorse for his actions and attended training the following day.
Unlike Dugan, Ferguson wasn't injured and didn't break the club's code of conduct for consuming alcohol, but missed Monday's scheduled recovery session.
Ferguson was handed a $10,000 suspended fine and ordered to continue counselling for his previous off-field incidents.
They include allegedly spitting on patrons at last year's Foreshore music festival and arriving intoxicated to a training session last year, which earned a one-game club-imposed suspension.
In January, he left a NSW Emerging Origin camp in the middle of the night without informing any officials of his departure.
Daley said he was aware of the reason for his abrupt exit, but preferred to keep those details private.
Ferguson has been one of the Raiders' most dynamic attacking weapons since joining the club from the Sharks in 2011 and has made a successful transition from the wing to the centres.
He scored three tries in his debut for Country last year to show he wouldn't look out of place in the Origin arena.
The Raiders have approached Daley and Mal Meninga to take on a mentoring role with Ferguson, something Daley welcomed.
''He's getting help and guidance and it's going to be an ongoing challenge for him,'' Daley said.
''If he's prepared to make those sacrifices, he'll eventually get there.
''At times he can give the wrong impression to people, but deep down he's a really good kid that needs help and guidance.''