SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 10: Blake Ferguson of the Eels looks on from the side line during the round 21 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Newcastle Knights at Bankwest Stadium on August 10, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Former NSW and Australian representative Blake Ferguson will be making his return to the Parramatta Eels this week, following a six week hiatus in reserve grade.

The decision by coach Brad Arthur to demote the 31-year-old winger following a rough loss to the Rabittohs in Round 12 was reported to be because of defensive concerns.

BLAKE FERGUSON
Wing
Eels
ROUND 12 STATS
163
All Run Metres
5
Tackles Made
1
Line Breaks

"For us to win the big games at the right end of the season - last year in our finals we scored four tries in each of our finals, but our defence wasn't good enough," Arthur said at the time.

"Systems are a real priority for us and there were some things that I'd asked Blake to go away and work on with his systems.

"We're third in the comp for tries against and tackle efficiency. We're not concerned about blokes making their tackles, we're more concerned about players sticking to our system and that was the thing that we asked Blake to go away and work on."

NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent and Fox Sports' James Hooper have lifted the veil from the 'fallout' between Ferguson and Arthur, suggesting that there's been a rift between the two and this could explain the wingers lengthy departure.

“He was dropped based on some defensive decisions we were told at the time that Blake was making,” Hooper said.

“We know the Eels have had a lot of problems down that right edge and Waqa Blake was also positioned on that side of the field at that stage of the season.

“There was a bit of talk that Fergo didn’t take his dropping too kindly. I think he might have had some pretty stern words with the coach about it and expressed some strong views.

“We see him back this week and he gets another opportunity.”

Kent also suggested that this fracture included Waqa Blake at the time.

“There was also a bit of a problem with Waqa Blake too between the pair of them,” Kent said.

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Arthur squashed some of these reports telling the media that he'd been impressed with Ferguson's form in the NSW Cup and the delay in his return was mainly due to a calf injury he'd experienced during his time in reserve grade.

While some thought that Ferguson's return to the first grade squad would be difficult, due to the impressive performance of young star Haze Dunster, the veteran winger will line up beside 18-year-old debutant Will Penisini as they take on the Raiders in Round 19.

With a few rounds left before the finals start, Ferguson will look to impress potential suitors, as he likely departs the blue and gold army at the end of this season, by bolstering an exciting Parramatta side into potential premiership glory.

While it's unclear if any NRL clubs have offered Ferguson a deal for 2022 and beyond, it's understood he has been in potential discussions with the Western Force about a switch to rugby union.