NRL: Ferguson's NRL career hangs in the balance

Blake Ferguson has a history of disciplinary problems, having already been suspended and fined this season. Photo / Getty Images
Blake Ferguson has a history of disciplinary problems, having already been suspended and fined this season. Photo / Getty Images

The career of NSW and Canberra star Blake Ferguson is hanging in the balance following the NRL's decision to suspended the utility back's registration after police charged him with indecent assault.

Ferguson was charged by police on Monday night following an incident at a bar 24 hours earlier in Sydney's south.

The 23-year-old was granted conditional bail to appear at Waverley Local Court on July 16 - the day before game three of this year's State of Origin series.

The NRL acted swiftly to the news by immediately suspending his registration for repeated behavioural issues involving the abuse of alcohol.

Ferguson was on his final warning at the Raiders after missing a recovery session in round one of this season to go drinking with teammate Josh Dugan on the fullback's rooftop in what was a long line of off-field indiscretions.

Dugan was subsequently sacked over the incident with Ferguson fined $10,000, suspended by the club for one game and ordered to undergo counselling.

The pair were reunited once again on Sunday evening in the 2230 Bar and Restaurant in Cronulla just hours after being named in the NSW side to face Queensland in Brisbane in Game two on June 26.

Dugan, who now plays for St George Illawarra, was not involved in the incident that led to Ferguson being charged, but his close friend is almost certain to face a similar fate from the Canberra board.

Should he be shown the door, he will become the fourth high-profile Raider to be sacked after Dugan, Joel Monaghan and Todd Carney.

Carney's registration was also suspended by the NRL in 2009 and he spent a year playing park footy in north Queensland before playing for the Sydney Roosters - where he was also sacked - then joining Cronulla.

Ferguson endured a well-documented difficult upbringing before being taken in by his grandmother who helped put him on the path to NRL success first with Cronulla and then the Raiders.

However, NRL chief executive Dave Smith insisted there could be no excuse for Ferguson's actions.

"It sends a very clear message that these sorts of behaviours are not going to be tolerated," Smith said at Suncorp Stadium on Monday after the NRL clash between Wests Tigers and Brisbane.

"We have worked with the Raiders, the NSWRL and that's the decision that has been reached," Smith said.

"We have seen the report so we are confident that we understand what went on.

"We've still got some work to do to get to the bottom of that.

"We will continue to do that with the Raiders tomorrow and the integrity unit and continue to make the right decisions but it's a clear message that it is not acceptable."

The news is a huge blow to NSW coach Laurie Daley who has already lost prop James Tamou due to off-field issues after he was arrested for high-range drink-driving.

The Blues coach will name a replacement on Tuesday morning with South Sydney veteran Nathan Merritt or Newcastle's Akuila Uate widely tipped to be Ferguson's replacement.

Smith said suspending Ferguson wasn't a knee-jerk reaction and was keen to make a ruling as soon as possible.

He also said a decision will not yet be made on any possible return date for the 23-year-old.

"It's important with Origin on the horizon, we didn't want to delay (action)," Smith said.

"It isn't a knee jerk, we have the work, we have spoken to the right people, there's been lots of people involved in reviewing the report.

"There's a bit of work to do to understand exactly what the minimum suspension period will be."

- AAP

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