Sandor Earl and Blake Ferguson: in photos
Sandor Earl and Blake Ferguson at Raiders training on July 23. Photo: Graham Tidy
The Canberra Raiders board has delayed its meeting with Blake Ferguson until after his court appearance for alleged indecent assault in Sydney next Tuesday.
After days of no contact, the Raiders have finally talked to their errant star by phone and demanded he return to Canberra and explain himself to the board, in person.
What's left to discuss?
Bye, bye Blake. Don't let 'The Dor' hit you on the way out.
By Dor, I refer to Ferguson's best mate, Sandor Earl. A pair so intrinsically linked that they've got a hashtag together, Dorguson, which Earl has inked onto his skin.
They've been together in good times, but most recently in bad. The 23 year olds formed an immediate friendship last year, when Earl joined the Raiders mid season from the Penrith Panthers. So inseparable was their bromance, they demanded to be roomed together on road trips.
On the field they clicked, too, their centre-wing combination helping propel the Raiders into the finals last season.
Then it started to unravel.
In November last year, Ferguson was kicked out of the Foreshore music festival in Canberra for allegedly spitting on patrons. The Canberra Times ran a photograph with the story, showing a shirtless and woohooing Ferguson sitting atop the shoulders of Earl.
That day Earl privately rang The Canberra Times. He asked me if the paper could crop him out of the photo if it was ever used in the future. Fergo was his mate, he assured, but he didn't want to be associated with his trouble.
Funny then, that before Thursday's announcement Earl was to be issued an infraction notice for using and trafficking peptides, the Raiders winger posted this message on Twitter: ''Real isn't who's with you at your celebrating … real is who's next to you at rock bottom.''
Earl is there now. Ferguson, his mate, is there, too.
But here is where I'd like to separate the inseparable duo, just for a moment.
For while Earl faces a minimum year out of professional sport, and potentially a lifetime ban, why should Ferguson get off scot-free for his behaviour?
If anything, the Raiders and their fans have been let down far more by Ferguson than they have by Earl.
Earl's indiscretion reportedly relates to his time at Penrith. Earl is also injured now, he was never going to play another game for the Raiders or in the NRL.
He was set to escape to French rugby, before ASADA collared him. Instead, Earl flew out of Sydney on Friday, to a secret location, to contemplate what he's allegedly confessed to.
Fairfax Media's Daniel Lane spoke to to Earl's mother, Jan, on Friday. She was distraught for her son, talking of the agony he went through by having two shoulder reconstructions. This, as we understand, is what prompted him to visit a Cabramatta clinic now at the centre of an ASADA investigation.
''We know it's not the end of the world but for a 23 year old … in his mind it feels as though his life has finished,'' Mrs Earl told Lane.
''His life is about sport, his body, training, fitness. That's his whole life but life isn't all about football. There's a footballer but there is a person with a mind, body and soul - I think that's being overlooked.''
Mrs Earl told Sandor: ''Listen, I'm your mum, I'd love you even if you murdered somebody.''
Now to Ferguson. When Ferguson has seemingly hit rock bottom this season, the Raiders have stood by him. In part, it may have cost coach David Furner his job because other players grew tired of the leniency afford to Ferguson.
Ferguson was drinking on a rooftop with fullback Josh Dugan after the round one loss to Penrith, when he should have been at training. The Raiders stood by him.
Ferguson was charged with indecent assault following an alleged incident at a Cronulla nightclub on the eve of NSW Blues camp for Origin II. The Raiders stood by him again, devoting more resources to his welfare and rehabilitation.
Ferguson, allegedly injured, could not even stand by on the sideline and watch his teammates lose the last two home matches. The night of the loss to the Bulldogs he was in a Sutherland Shire pub. For the following week's loss to Manly, he was partying at the Clovelly Hotel and in Kings Cross.
He hasn't even had the courtesy to tell Raiders officials where he was, or return their calls.
And so, the Raiders have suspended him indefinitely without pay.
Now the time has come for Canberra to cut Ferguson loose. But, to do this, the NRL needs to stand by the Raiders.
Ferguson will face a Sydney court on Tuesday. He is also due to appear in Moss Vale Local Court on October 21, for speeding and driving with a suspended license. The Raiders are waiting on the outcomes.
But when Ferguson faces the Raiders board next week there can only be one judgment.
Bye, bye, Blake.