BLAKE Ferguson promised to stay off the roof of the NSW team hotel if he is reunited with Josh Dugan for Origin II after the Canberra centre made a booming return to club football in the Raiders’ big win over Brisbane.
The Broncos’ premiership campaign is on life support after a 30-18 Monday Night Football defeat. They trailed 24-0 shortly before halftime, languish in 11th and face missing the finals for only the second time in 23 years.
With Jarryd Hayne likely to miss the second interstate encounter with a hamstring injury and Dugan short-priced favourite to replace him, Ferguson was asked by Andrew Johns on radio at fulltime if he would be reconvening on a rooftop with his former club mate.
“No, not unless you’re there,” Ferguson told Triple M NRL. “The three of us – forget it.”
Johns then asked the Blues winger if he was still drinking pineapple cruisers, the beverage Dugan held in the instagram picture which got him sacked.
“Nah, I’m off them – come on, I’m a good boy now,” Ferguson said.
There were other Origin implications last night too, with Queensland hopeful Josh Papalii placed on report in the dying moments of the game for a lifting tackle on Brisbane’s Josh Hoffman.
Raiders coach David Furner did not think the incident was serious while rival Anthony Griffin did not see it. Raiders captain Terry Campese said “you know he’s not going to get punted for that”.
Coming oft a 56-18 defeat to the Warriors seven days earlier, The Broncos found themselves 24-0 down three minutes short of halftime.
The Raiders tries had been eye-catching. Ferguson fielded a Campese kick and offloaded deftly to scorer Josh McCrone, almost in the same movement.
Captain Campese roared into the clear to put Joe Thompson over. Reece Robinson and Edrick Lee combined over 70 metres for Jarrod Croker to score.
But Scott Prince crossed just short of halftime and Matt Gillett 12 minutes after it to briefly make things interesting, before late Canberra inclusion Joel Edwards bustled his way over for a try which disgusted Griffin so much that he dropped a rare expletive describing it in the media conference.
Furner said: “A 6-1 penalty count in the second half is going to bring any team back into the game. I’ve got some questions.
“We were obviously trying to play a fast style of the game against the Broncos … we were getting held down a bit longer.”
The Raiders have won nine in a row at home for the first time in 2000 and Campese said: “It’s something we spoke about at the start of the season – making Canberra Stadium a fortress again”.
Both sides went into the game on the back of two losses but it’s the plight of the perpetually glamorous Broncos which continues to attract headlines.
“There’s only one way to get out of it and that’s to look it square in the eye and keep fighting,” said Griffin.
“We can sit and do sums but at the moment it’s about sticking together and working hard to get a win.
“At 24-0 tonight, we were miles away from that. We’ve just clearly got to be better than that.”
Captain Sam Thaiday said: “Nothing really goes your way when you’re not winning games.
“It’s going to take a lot of fight and a lot of hard work to get out of what’s been happening over the last few weeks.
“We’ve got a very talented squad, we’ve just got to believe in it.” Hoffman rolled his hamstring while back rower Alex Glenn finished the night with a hamstring problem.
CANBERRA 30 (J McCrone J Thompson J Croker E Lee J Edwards tries J Croker 5 goals) bt BRISBANE 18 (S Prince M Gillett M Dodds tries S Prince 3 goals) at Canberra Stadium. Referees: G Sutton/L Phillips. Crowd: 10,419.
Filed for: THE AUSTRALIAN