Blake Ferguson leaves Raiders HQ about 11am on Tuesday. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Wayward NRL star Blake Ferguson is back in Canberra, but yet to confirm he wants to remain in Raiders colours.
Ferguson will not be named when the Raiders announce their squad on Tuesday afternoon to take on Manly in this Sunday’s must-win match at Canberra Stadium.
But Fairfax Media understands Ferguson will be overlooked because of injury, and has not yet been suspended by the club.
Raiders coach David Furner and club officials plan to meet meet with Ferguson on Tuesday afternoon to determine if he breached club protocols by drinking while injured and to get to the bottom of speculation that he wants a release from the the final two years of his contract.
While the Raiders squad does not return to training until Wednesday afternoon, Ferguson did report to Raiders training headquarters in Bruce on Tuesday morning to work out in the gym with Canberra’s injured rehabilitation group.
Ferguson was not sporting club colours when photographed by Fairfax Media, leaving the facility wearing a cap and hoodie featuring rappers.
Ferguson was a late withdrawal from last Saturday’s loss to the Bulldogs because of a small tear in his quadriceps. He is scheduled to have back scans to see if that may be contributing to his thigh and hip injuries.
Ferguson is yet to publicly state his commitment to the Raiders after reports broke last Wednesday that he would seek a release to return to Sydney and be closer to family and mentor Anthony Mundine.
Ferguson did meet with Mundine, Sonny Bill Williams and sports agent Khoder Nasser while in Sydney over the weekend, fuelling speculation that he may be plotting an exit strategy from Canberra.
But Mundine has told Fairfax Media he is not aware Ferguson has any plans to seek a release.
Mundine says he simply wants to be an adviser to Ferguson, urging the 23-year-old to manage his own affairs.
The Raiders would love to have a fit, focused and firing Ferguson back in their team, especially given backline injuries to Jack Wighton, Edrick Lee and Terry Campese.
But Ferguson will not be named on Tuesday.
The Raiders are, however, contemplating several changes to their backline for Sunday’s crucial match against Manly.
Warriors recruit Bill Tupou will be named to make his debut for the club, likely as a centre replacement for Wighton, who broke his leg in two places against the Bulldogs and will miss the remainder of the season.
The Raiders are also considering shifting rookie sensation Anthony Milford, who is having his own contractual stand-off with Canberra, to the halves in place of Sam Williams.
If Campese does not recover from his eye injury, Milford’s shift to the halves would enable Reece Robinson to return to his preferred position at fullback.
Robinson and Sandor Earl are both under pressure to retain their spots on the wing, with rookie Sami Sauiluma also in the mix for a return to NRL.