We’re only two and a bit rounds into 2019. It’s only three games into the Parramatta Eels’ chapter for former Test and Origin winger Blake Ferguson however I’m sure a lot of Parramatta fans will be getting excited at how big an impact their star signing can add.
Eels fans must tire of getting their hopes up of a big-name signing that can change the club’s fortunes. It happened with Chris Sandow who joined in 2012 who played 75 games and scored 15 tries without a finals appearance to his name. It happened again in 2016 when Kieran Foran joined with high expectations, only to play nine games before departing the club.
In 2018 there were countless reasons why the Eels ended up picking up a fourteenth wooden spoon. But a clear hole in the side was the loss of Fijian flyer Semi Radradra to rugby union.
Bevan French, Jarryd Hayne, Kirisome Auva’a, Josh Hoffman and George Jennings all had cracks on the wing but couldn’t manufacture a similar strike power and struggled to match Radradra’s destructive running game.
Ferguson’s impressed not only Parramatta fans but a number of neutrals as well, with his performances in victories over Penrith and Canterbury proving eye-catching. His composure under the high ball prevents the opposition from targeting his corner and also takes pressure off his fellow outside backs.
Ferguson’s aggressive and hungry metre-eating has also laid the platform for the forwards and halves to build off and has been key in pushing the Eels deeper into opposition territory towards the back end of their sets – an aspect of their game they struggled with last year.
The 2018 Premiership winner notched up 298 metres, two line-breaks, two tries and a try assist in his side’s 36-16 triumph over the Dogs during round two and it has outlined how big of an impact Ferguson is having on his new team.
“He’s a winner. The boys just like sitting next to him in the sheds because he breathes confidence,” Brad Arthur said of his winger after his side’s win.
“He just wants to win, just thinks he’s gonna win all the time and that’s how he is.”
It’s clear to see the difference ‘Fergo’ has made to the Blue and Golds. The mentality and attitude he adds to the squad with his representative experience and recent premiership success making him a vital addition and strong influence for his younger teammates.
It’s only three matches, but with the evidence we’ve already seen across 240 minutes, Ferguson can be one of the most effective signings in the NRL in 2019 and of the decade for Parramatta and he can definitely be one of the driving forces behind a return to the finals stage this season.