Ferguson: 172-day booze ban to thank for Origin recall
Blake Ferguson's two-year State of Origin exile is over, but that doesn't mean the recalled NSW Blues winger is about to end his 172-day booze ban. SUBSCRIBE FOR AUSTRALIA'S BEST NRL NEWS
"I'm here to play football - I'm here to do a job for NSW," Ferguson told The Daily Telegraph on his arrival at Perth Airport on Monday.
It's been 172 days since Ferguson consumed alcohol. And that decision to not drink during the season is paying dividends.
"(Drinking) made me realise something had to change and it's brought me to game two - how good," Ferguson said.
"I feel so much more content in life."
Ferguson remains on a self-imposed booze ban and will refuse any alcoholic drinks during the lead-up to State of Origin II in Perth on Sunday night.
Asked would he buckle and have a beer in Perth, Ferguson said: "No, mate."
Blues coach Brad Fittler praised Ferguson's "strong and disciplined" stance towards alcohol.
"I don't drink during the year," said Ferguson, who instead opts for coke or water.
"I haven't had a (drink) since the 28th of December last year."
It was that long ago, Ferguson doesn't remember where he was or who he was with.
"It's become a habit. I will have a beer at the end of the year when we finish our last game," he said.
"I now drink what normal people drink - water and I like having a can of Coke."
Ferguson and Blues teammate Josh Dugan were caught drinking during a 2017 camp at Kingscliff on the NSW north coast, which led the Parramatta winger to fear his papers had been marked 'never to be picked again'.
"That was two years ago. I can't keep living in the past. I'm here to do a job this weekend - that's basically it," he said.
"I can't keep dwelling on what happened in the past because it's irrelevant to what is happening now. It's not going to help me play football this weekend.
"Everyone has their own opinion on situations and you can't knock someone for an opinion and I respect everyone's opinion.
"I missed out in game one this year but you never give up faith. I went back and worked on a few things and I'm now back in the team which I'm really happy about.
"I just enjoy playing football and, at the end of the day, I'm just trying to better myself as a footy player. I am always trying to reinvent the way that I play. I'm always searching for the next (level) for myself."
Fittler spoke passionately about the sacrifices Ferguson had made to earn his Origin recall.
It isn't easy," Fittler said of Ferguson's beer ban.
"Anyone who can show some discipline like that and buck the trend, it's a strong thing.
"Any sign of strength like that can only pay you back in a positive way. That will come out in his footy.
"He's been great. Most probably my favourite phone call (to reveal team selection) was to him. He was very excited and very grateful."
Ferguson's form this season for Parramatta has been sparkling. He is averaging 161 run metres a game and made eight linebreaks.
Wests Tigers utility Ryan Matterson and Parramatta skipper Clint Gutherson will fly to Perth on Tuesday to be NSW's 18th and 19th men.