Not only did Blake Ferguson see his rugby career end before he had a chance to start, but the former NRL star remains in a Japanese prison after being arrested for drug possession in December
Image: AAP/PA images)
Attempts to get Blake Ferguson back to Australia have so far been unsuccessful, as the former National Rugby League (NRL) star is still locked up in a Japanese prison nearly a month after his arrest in Tokyo.
It is alleged that Ferguson, 31, was in possession of cocaine after his arrest on December 30, when he allegedly punched a fellow patron at a restaurant in Minato City, a popular nightclub district in Japan’s capital.
The incident took place on the eve of the new Japan Rugby League One campaign, which saw former Parramatta Eels talisman Ferguson make his rugby debut at Green Rockets Tokatsu.
However, the arrest led to the termination of his contract before he had the chance to play competitive rugby for a minute, raising doubts as to whether a union outfit will take him on.
Fox Sports reported that Ferguson’s management team is working hard to get New South Walian’s home, but he will remain behind bars for more than three weeks after his arrest.
Green Rockets Tokatsu was quick in their decision to release Ferguson, but accepted some responsibility for his actions: “NEC Corporation would like to express its deepest apologies for the arrest of Blake Ferguson, a former contract player of NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu, a rugby union team that by NEC Corporation, on December 30, 2021, on suspicion of possession of illegal drugs, a serious violation of the law.
“It must be said that the efforts to inform newly signed players about the situation were insufficient and we solemnly acknowledge that this situation has happened.
“We intend to take disciplinary action against the director responsible for the promotion of sports activities and team managers after appropriate measures are taken.”
It was even suggested that the club would be forced to withdraw from the new Rugby League One campaign – at least for the 2022 season – as a result of Ferguson’s controversy.
Japanese authorities are not tolerant of drug charges, as fans saw when New Zealander Joel Everson was arrested in March 2020 on suspicion of cocaine use.
The Southland lock tested positive and was sentenced to 23 days in prison, while Japan suspended all rugby for three weeks and the Hino Red Dolphins – his employers at the time – canceled their remaining matches that season.
Ferguson has now spent about the same amount of time behind bars, although there is little information about his treatment and the circumstances of his detention.
Charges of drug possession in Japan carry a maximum jail term of five years, but it is possible that that sentence could be suspended and the player returned to his native Australia.
Despite the situation, Ferguson appears to have a potential lifeline amid rumors of an NRL comeback.
The Sack Report claimed the Newcastle Knights were interested in signing back the utility, only for Dane Gagai and other members of staff to speak out against his recruitment.
That may not be the last of his hopes for a return to the rugby league, but with expansion gear, the Redcliffe Dolphins would also be interested before joining the NRL in 2023.