Ferguson is no Radradra replacement for Eels
Blake Ferguson wants to be his own man and bristles at the suggestion he has been bought by Parramatta to replace Semi Radradra.
On the surface, the former NSW and Australian winger is a like-for-like replacement for fellow metre-eater Radradra, whose presence had been sorely missed last NRL season by the Eels.
As the Eels plummeted from fourth to 16th in the space of 12 months, many pundits and fans identified Radradra's absence as the reason for Brad Arthur's side's freefall to the wooden spoon.
Ferguson was arguably the form winger of 2018 and was a key player in the Sydney Roosters' premiership success.
He became just the third player in league history to clock 5000 metres in a season after running for 5039m this year at an average of 186m. But Ferguson rejects the notion of being lured to Sydney's west just to replace Radradra.
"I'm a different player to Semi. I know what I bring to the club - that's why Brad got me here," Ferguson said.
"Semi's a really good player but I also think I can do a job as well.
"We'll see how we go next year; I won't be leaving any stone unturned in this pre-season; I'm not going to allow myself to fail."
Despite being dropped by first-year coach Brad Fittler, he will be a part of an off-season NSW Origin camp on Friday at Sydney's Olympic Park, signalling the Blues haven't closed the door on him.
"I'm happy playing for Parramatta," Ferguson said when asked of his representative ambitions for 2019.
"I'm happy doing my own thing at club level."
Like the man himself, Arthur said he didn't see Ferguson as a Radradra replacement and anointed him the form winger of the game this year. As the Eels seek to rebuild their culture after their six-win 2018 season, Arthur says Ferguson is already rubbing off on his teammates. "You can see the quality that he brings to the team around his football and his talk," Arthur said.
"We've never been a bad training team but he's raised the bar this week - his talk with the young fellas and making them feel confident, that they belong."