Former NRL bad boy Blake Ferguson is a step closer to State of Origin redemption after being named in the Emerging NSW Blues squad.
The Sydney Roosters strike weapon was a notable inclusion in a 17-strong line-up unveiled by coach Laurie Daley on Wednesday.
They will assemble at ANZ Stadium on Saturday for a day-long camp Daley hopes will give an insight into what it takes to play Origin football.
Ferguson – who played one Origin game in 2013 – will relish the second chance.
He has already made the most of an NRL lifeline thrown by the Roosters after being forced from the game for the entire 2014 season as a result of a conviction for indecent assault.
Ferguson enjoyed a stellar 2015 for the Roosters as a centre and is tipped to wear the club’s No.1 jersey this season, replacing Warriors recruit Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
He may vie for the NSW No.1 jersey with Josh Dugan but has already been tipped to slot onto the wing for the underperforming Will Hopoate.
A redemption story also looms for Emerging Blues call-up Dylan Walker.
The former South Sydney flyer was cut by the club after a board review of an incident in which he and Aaron Gray were rushed to hospital in September due to a pain medication overdose following end-of-season surgery.
Walker could be a Blues No.6 bolter after expressing his desire to play pivot at new club Manly.
Another notable selection is new Brisbane recruit James Roberts.
The Dally M Centre of the Year left the Gold Coast in the off-season due to a contract forgery bungle and linked with the Broncos where he is set to fill the vacancy created by retired great Justin Hodges.
“These guys are players who are obviously very talented and we believe they have the potential to be Origin players,” Daley said of the squad.
“Hopefully they will get something out of the camp and it makes them more determined to be a part of the … State of Origin series.”
Other standouts include Dally M Five-eighth of the Year Blake Austin, Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco and Newcastle’s Tariq Sims, whose brother Korbin was named in Queensland’s Emerging Origin squad on Tuesday.
Emerging Blues squad: James Roberts (Brisbane), Blake Austin (Canberra), Jack Wighton (Canberra), Aiden Tolman (Canterbury), Wade Graham (Cronulla), Ryan James (Titans), Dylan Walker (Manly), Tariq Sims (Newcastle), Nathan Peats (Eels), Matt Moylan (Penrith), Alex Johnston (Rabbitohs), Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs), Tyson Frizell (Dragons), Jack De Belin (Dragons), Blake Ferguson (Roosters), Kane Evans (Roosters), James Tedesco (Wests Tigers).