NSW fullback Josh Dugan is backing Blake Ferguson to make a successful transition to the custodian role for Sydney Roosters next NRL season.
Ferguson will likely be shifted into the Roosters’ No.1 jersey to accommodate the defection of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to the Warriors.
Dugan said his former Canberra teammate has all the attributes to be a real threat at the back.
“I think he is fit enough, he is big enough, he is strong enough and he is a great runner,” Dugan told AAP.
“So there is no reason why he can’t be a success there.
“It is just a matter of getting the pre-season under his belt and learning as much as he can.
“I think the biggest thing for him will be monitoring the play and following the ball and just being in the right position both in defence and attack.”
Dugan’s and Ferguson’s infamous rooftop drinking binge in 2013 led to the St George Illawarra fullback’s exit from the Raiders.
Other off-field indiscretions led to Ferguson being exiled from the NRL for 18 months. But he has turned his career around since joining the Roosters for the 2015 season in which he played some of his best football at centre.
But Ferguson will need to step up another gear in 2016 if the Roosters are to challenge for the premiership.
An ankle injury ended any chance Ferguson had of returning to the State of Origin scene this year. NSW coach Laurie Daley has indicated Dugan is likely to retain his fullback spot for the Blues, even if he does play at centre for the Dragons.
However a strong early season from Ferguson could see the 25-year-old add to his sole Origin appearance in 2013, most likely on the wing given the underwhelming efforts of Will Hopoate during this year’s series loss for the Blues.
Dugan, who has put aside any thoughts of following Jarryd Hayne to the NFL to instead focus on a contact extension with the Dragons, said Ferguson hadn’t sought him out for advice about playing at fullback. Perhaps because he didn’t need to.
“He hasn’t spoken to me about it, I guess he is a freakish player, you have seen what he can do at centre and wing that sort of thing,” Dugan said.
“I don’t think he will have too much trouble adjusting to it.
“He had a great season this year and just got better as the year went on. He is the type of player who could make that fullback spot his own.”