'Good enough to play international rugby': Western Force confirm interest in NRL star Blake Ferguson
The Western Force have confirmed their interest in NRL star Blake Ferguson after the Parramatta Eels wing was linked to a cross-code move on Wednesday.
Speaking on NRL 360 earlier this week, The Daily Telegraph sports editor-at-large Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield revealed Ferguson, the out-of-favour 31-year-old, is being circled by a rugby union side.
The Force have since confirmed that they are keen on signing Ferguson, who has enjoyed a glittering rugby league career since his NRL debut in 2009.
The Perth-based franchise’s chief executive Tony Lewis told the Sydney Morning Herald that the Force have approached Ferguson and are interested in both his on-field ability and how he can assist in developing an indigenous education program.
“We are very serious on the approach,” Lewis told the Herald. “We believe Blake would be an exceptional rugby player. We think he is good enough to play international rugby.”
The acquisition of Ferguson would be yet another high-profile signing by the Force since their return to Super Rugby last year following a three-year absence from the competition.
After their winless campaign in last year’s inaugural Super Rugby AU competition, the Force, backed by billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest, recruited strongly for the 2021 season.
New players this year included Wallabies trio Tevita Kuridrani, Tom Robertson and Sitaleki Timani, Los Pumas stars Domingo Miotti, Tomas Cubelli, Tomas Lezana and Santiago Medrano, Ireland legend Rob Kearney, promising English wing Jordan Olowofela and Wallabies prospect Toni Pulu.
Already equipped with ex-All Blacks pair Richard Kahui and Jeremy Thrush, former Wallabies duo Greg Holmes and Kyle Godwin, USA Eagles wing Marcel Brache, Manu Samoa international Henry Taefu and new Wallabies hooker Feleti Kaitu’u, the Force improved drastically this season.
After qualifying for their first-ever play-offs match in Super Rugby history, the Force’s third-place finish in Super Rugby AU was followed by an admirable showing in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, where they held their largely own against the vastly superior Kiwi sides.
With their aggressive recruitment scheme paying dividends on the field, it appears the Force are set to continue their off-field raid of the player market, with Ferguson the latest high-profile name on their hit list.
The Force have already secured the signatures of Brumbies quartet Reesjan Pasitoa, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Bayley Kuenzle and Reece Tapine for the 2022 season, while Crusaders and Fiji wing Manasa Mataele is reportedly a transfer target.
— The XV Rugby (@TheXV) June 18, 2021
None, however, offer the star power that Ferguson would provide given his status in rugby league.
With almost 250 NRL appearances to his name, Ferguson has scored 122 tries in a career spanning 12 years that has seen him play for the Cronulla Sharks, Canberra Raiders, Sydney Roosters – who he won the NRL Premiership with in 2018 – and now the Eels.
Ferguson has also accrued seven tests for the Kangaroos, nine caps for New South Wales and seven appearances for the Indigenous All-Stars since 2010.
Although he has never played rugby union professionally, Ferguson’s agent Sam Ayoub confirmed to the Herald that his client is considering a move to Perth, and Rothfield backed the experienced campaigner to make a successful cross-code switch.
“I think he could make the change, I think there has been interest there and he could make a lot more money than what an NRL club would be prepared to pay.
“We might lose him, one of the most colourful players, at the end of the year.”
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