SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 10: Blake Ferguson of the Blues and Josh Addo-Carr of the Blues celebrate after winning game three of the 2019 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on July 10, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Blake Ferguson is set to return to Australian shores in the coming weeks after being handed an early release from his contract with Leigh on compassionate grounds, opening the door for an NRL return.

The former New South Wales winger made the move to the Leigh Leopards (formerly the Leigh Centurions) midway through the 2022 season, scoring 21 tries in 17 games for the club, as well as playing a part in their 2023 promotion back into the Super League.

It was a rollercoaster year for Ferguson after his rocky exit from Parramatta, joining the NEC Green Rockets, a Japanese rugby union side, however the outside back was sacked shortly after being imprisoned for the possession of cocaine as well as assaulting a patron.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 29: Blake Ferguson of the Eels celebrates scoring a try during the round three NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on March 29, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

He spent 29 nights in a Tokyo jail cell, before finally earning a reprieve, and making the move to England to join Leigh shortly afterwards.

Rumours swirled of an NRL return before his initial signing with Leigh, rumours which are set rear their head now that Ferguson is heading back to Australia effective immediately.

The 32 year-old had signed a two-year extension with the incoming Super League club back in July, however a bout of homesickness has the former Raider and Rooster on his way home ahead of the 2023 season.

It's unclear at this stage which clubs would be interested in the ex-Kangaroo for next season as the majority of sides fill their Top 30, with pre-season games just two months away.

The Dolphins, Titans, Manly, North Queensland, Penrith, St George Illawarra and the Roosters all have at least four vacancies in their squad at the time of writing, however the majority of their backlines are set for 2023.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Blake Ferguson of the Roosters celebrates victory during the 2018 NRL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

South Sydney could potentially shape as a landing spot for Ferguson, who are likely to start 26 year-old rookie Izaac Thompson on the right wing in Round 1 after the departure of Jaxson Paulo and suspension of Taane Milne.

Ferguson also won a competition alongside Latrell Mitchell, as well as playing Origin alongside Damien Cook and Cameron Murray. The club is in the market for a hulking winger, recently linked to Newcastle's Dominic Young, who's free to sign with rival clubs for 2024.

Just under nine weeks until the first NRL trial game, Ferguson is likely to make an announcement on his future sooner rather than later, whether it be playing on and adding to his 250 NRL games, or hanging up the boots after an illustrious career.