Canberra Raiders to stand by troubled Ferguson
ROJE ADAIMY, MELISSA WOODS AND IAN MCCULLOUGH
Canberra chairman John McIntyre says the club will stand by troubled NSW State of Origin winger Blake Ferguson and help with a rehabilitation plan.
Ferguson was dumped from the Blues team as the NRL suspended his registration on Monday night, citing repeated behavioural issues involving the abuse of alcohol.
The 23-year-old returned to Canberra from the NSW team hotel on Tuesday morning just as news was breaking that South Sydney prop George Burgess had been charged by police in Cairns with wilful damage.
Burgess was suspended for two matches by the NRL and slugged with a $10,000 fine after he threw a road sign through a car window in the Cairns suburb of Redlynch.
The incident took place some 15km away from the Souths team hotel, after an argument with resident of a unit complex in the early hours of Monday morning following the Rabbitohs' win over the Gold Coast in the North Queensland town.
Ferguson was charged by police with indecent assault over an alleged incident on Sunday at a bar in Sydney, where he was drinking with former Raiders teammate Josh Dugan.
The 23-year-old was on his final warning at the club after he was stood down for one game and fined $10,000 for skipping a recovery session to go drinking with Dugan, who was sacked over the incident in March.
Raiders chief executive Don Furner said on Tuesday the club backed the action taken by the NRL against Ferguson but a course of action is yet to be determined.
"We recognise this process is going to involve discussions with the NRL and also the need for the club to continue to send a strong message in this area," Furner said.
"We have been in constant consultation with the NRL integrity unit and will continue to work with them to determine the best course of action for Blake, the Raiders and the NRL."
However, long-standing chairman McIntyre then told the Canberra Times the board would definitely stand by and help Ferguson get through his problems.
"I sent my thoughts around to the board via email today and they've responded," he said.
"The key element that's got to come out of it in the end has got to be support for this young bloke."
Ferguson's replacement in the NSW side Nathan Merritt said he was disappointed to see him axed because of behavioural issues and hoped his indigenous all stars teammate would get the right help around him to get his career back on track.
"Hopefully Blake is being surrounded by the right people and they try to keep him calm," Merritt said.
"He needs to get his mind back on the job, get away for a while, freshen up and then see where he goes from there."
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