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Roosters' recruit Blake Ferguson barred from working with junior players

Sydney Roosters have signed former NSW and Canberra three-quarter Blake Ferguson for next season.

Sydney Roosters have signed former NSW and Canberra three-quarter Blake Ferguson for next season. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Blake Ferguson would have to undergo a risk assessment by the NSW Commission for Children and Young People if his new job as a community and development officer was to include working with junior footy teams.

The Sydney Roosters on Thursday moved to clarify Ferguson’s position with the premiers in the face of a backlash about their employment of the former NSW State of Origin winger.

The 24-year-old, who remains deregistered by the NRL after being found guilty of indecently assaulting a woman at a Cronulla nightclub last year, is in his new role but not coaching or mentoring under-age players, the club says.

‘‘With regards to junior clubs, it’s the open-age players in the junior club system such as Bondi United A-grade team for example, that he’ll be doing coaching sessions with,’’ Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan said. ‘‘He will also be working with disadvantaged groups such as the NSW Wheelchair Rugby League and with the NRL and their welfare education department. He will do indigenous mentoring and those programs will be overseen by Dean Widders at the NRL.’’

The Roosters are aware of the hurdles to overcome should his position widen to coaching juniors.

Under the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 a conviction for indecent assault automatically bars a person from working with children.

For that to be lifted, Ferguson would have to clear a NSW Commission for Children and Young People risk assessment. Anyone in child-related work must pass a "Working with Children Check".

‘‘We’ll investigate down the track the appropriate channels as to the Working with Children Check,’’ Canavan said. ‘‘I’ve already made contact with the PCYC about that ... if he does work with the PCYC.’’

After starting the new job on Thursday, the Roosters hope to have the former Cronulla and Canberra back join their playing ranks next year and are vowing to support him.

Asked about the reaction to his role with the Roosters, Canavan said: ‘‘We carefully considered all this. We realise it’s a delicate situation.

‘‘Blake has already received his penalty and indeed that is still ongoing in terms of registration. What we’re trying to do is assist a young person with his own personal career and hopefully with his football career after that. We fully appreciate the fact that people have comment on it but he’s already been penalised. The other thing about Blake is he hasn’t had the advantage of a conventional upbringing and education.’’

Ferguson’s appeal against his conviction will be heard in court next month.

4 comments so far

  • I would love to stand in the background and listen to his words of wisdom in the Mentoring Department.....Now that would be something to be able to record for a laugh and try to decipher.

    Date and time
    May 22, 2014, 7:44PM
    • No-one from the Roosters would deny that they are doing this to get a return-on-investment, in the form of future on-field performances from Ferguson. That's the business they are in.

      Notwithstanding this, if it does work, and he can first get his head right, then perform well, then it's a clear win-win.

      At 24, Ferguson has potentially plenty more to give on and off the field. I hope he realizes this potential.

      Joe the expat
      The Hague.
      Date and time
      May 22, 2014, 8:50PM
      • There is a real possibility his appeal against his conviction will fail so what then? What will it say about the Roosters stance on 'Women in league' if they have a player with a charge of indecently assaulting a Female whom he didn't even know in a public place?

        Jervis Bay
        Date and time
        May 23, 2014, 8:38AM
        • Please everyone - just give the bloke a break... Yes he has done the wrong thing - but he has been and still is being penalised.
          As far as I can see there are there are two ways this could go....He ends up institutionalised and a drain on public resources for the rest of his life (or worse suicide, drug overdose - would that make you all happy?), OR he is rehabilitated and ends up a productive member of society. The choice is his - but we can all help by just getting of his back and giving him a chance to turn things around.

          Enmore Chook
          Date and time
          May 23, 2014, 4:12PM

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