Report: Michael Cheika in firing line over Blake Ferguson arrest
Former Wallabies boss Michael Cheika is reportedly in the firing line over the arrest of ex-NRL star Blake Ferguson on the eve of the Japan Rugby League One season.
Ferguson was sacked by Green Rockets Tokatsu without playing a game for the Japanese club on January 2 after he was arrested on suspicion of possessing illegal drugs following an altercation with another person.
The Green Rockets have since apologised for Ferguson’s actions, but the club are reportedly piling pressure on Cheika to keep his job as a result of the fiasco, which has left Ferguson facing a potential five-year jail term.
Cheika, the ex-Wallabies boss and 2015 World Rugby Coach of the Year, signed a deal to join the Green Rockets as a director of rugby last year and, according to Fox Sports, was key in bringing Ferguson to the club.
Fox Sports reports that Cheika “is under pressure to hold onto his job” as a result of Ferguson’s arrest, which comes after he played only three pre-season matches for the Green Rockets after joining from the NRL.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Green Rockets said that it plans “to take disciplinary action against the director in charge of sports business promotion and team executives after appropriate measures are implemented”.
The club added it was “deeply apologetic” for their new recruits actions and confirmed it would forge ahead and play its opening match of the season against the Yokohama Canon Eagles in Kashiwa on Saturday.
The decision to play the match comes in stark contrast to previous measures taken by Japanese clubs and leagues embroiled in drug scandals.
In 2020, Kiwi lock Joel Everson served 23 days in a Japanese prison after testing positive for the use of cocaine while playing for Hino Red Dolphins.
The year beforehand, two Toyota Verblitz players – Steven Yates and Ryota Kabashima – were both arrested seperately for similar offences.
On all occasions, games were suspended either by the players’ clubs or by the league itself in a mark of how seriously drug offences are taken in Japan.
A former Kangaroos and New South Wales representative, Ferguson spent 13 seasons in the NRL, where he made almost 250 appearances and scored 126 tries for the Cronulla Sharks, Canberra Raiders, Sydney Roosters and Parramatta Eels.
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