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He spent three years out of representative football, but Blake Ferguson returned with a bang in 2016.

After 18 months out of the game altogether, Ferguson had been touted for a potential return to State of Origin last season - but failed to recapture his form until after the series has passed. As 2016 got underway, however, it became very clear that the Roosters outside back was a much more mature, stronger, defensively stronger player than he had been previously and he was rewarded with a debut Kangaroos jersey for the trans-Tasman test in May. Scoring a try in that game, Ferguson's prospects improved and he was rewarded with a second Origin berth for the opening game in Sydney.

In what was a gallant, albeit unsuccessful two-point loss, Ferguson impressed many with an undoubted effort in the sky blue jersey. Confident under the high ball and playing with aggression, he formed part of a back line which was generally strong in the series opener - and followed it up with another solid game three weeks later. Playing direct once again in Origin III, Ferguson was key in the VB Blues' thrilling last-minute victory, making the vital line-break which saw Michael Jennings score the matchwinner one play later.

In total, Ferguson had the involvement expected of him in 2016 with the team's third-most runs and a series-high 24 supports. While he's played all nine of his representative games to date on the wing, Ferguson is also a more-than-capable centre and is solid defensively anywhere in the back line. Midway through an exceptional Four Nations campaign, expect Ferguson to return an even stronger and more experienced when he pushes for re-selection next season.


Blake Ferguson:

Origins: 4 (2013-16)
2016 Matches: 3 (Games I, II and III)
Total Running Metres: 329 metres
Supports: 24
Metres after contact: 64 metres

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.