Blake Ferguson’s resounding Four Nations tour has kept the door ajar on his chances of retaining his NSW State of Origin jumper next year, says Blues coach Laurie Daley.
Four months after an error-riddled return to the Origin arena, Ferguson was awarded the Harry Sunderland medal as Australia’s best player in the Four Nations series.
For Daley, it was the perfect response after a sub-par Origin series in 2016.
“The thing with Fergo, on that big stage, unfortunately he’d made one error a game and all those errors in games one, two and three led to tries,” Daley said.
“In that arena where tries are hard to come by, every mistake is scrutinised. Other than that, his overall game in Origin was very good. Unfortunately mistakes did lead to tries.”
Ferguson was brought back into the Origin cauldron this year despite a slow start to the 2016 season with his club side, Sydney Roosters, that included a one-game experiment at fullback.
He was immediately switched to the flanks until after the Origin series, when club coach Trent Robinson again attempted to play the 26-year-old in the No.1 jumper.
And it was there where Daley noticed a big jump in form over the back half of Ferguson’s campaign, resulting in a Kangaroos berth and an equal tournament-high four tries.
“He got better as the season went on and took a lot of confidence. Going away with the Australian side, he got player of the tour, so that’s a fantastic achievement,” Daley said.
“You’d think he’d come back a better player for that and again look to cement his position in the NSW team, but you can never take anything for granted in this team.
“We had some really good performers this year but there are some guys who missed out that are knocking on the door in terms of those outside backs.
“It gives us great depth and great comfort to know we’ve got plenty of people challenging for positions. The exciting thing for me is the guys will have to go out there and play well if they want to be in that first game.”