Parramatta great Peter Sterling believes veteran winger Blake Ferguson will struggle to get back into the Eels’ side following the emergence of young star Haze Dunster.
Ferguson bagged five tries from the opening four games in a strong start to the season, before a poor defensive outing against the Rabbitohs last month prompted Eels coach Brad Arthur to swing the axe, spectacularly dumping the former NSW star in favour of rookie Haze Dunster.
Since coming into the side two rounds ago, Dunster looks to have solved the team’s defensive woes. The Eels have given up a total of 16 points across their past two games, well down from the combined 68 points that were conceded in the prior two matches during Round 11 and 12 when Ferguson was in the side.
“I’ve loved what I’ve seen from Haze Dunster,” he told Wide World of Sports’ Sterlo’s Wrap. “This young man has come in under a lot of pressure because he’s replacing a seasoned veteran, but also into a situation where they had really struggled.
“You can see the decision made here (photo below). The composure Haze shows in either coming up or staying out and getting the decision right.
“In the second half [against the Tigers last weekend] he showed the sideline to the opposition on a number of occasions. The illusion the Wests Tigers could play around him, he closed that down.
“He has a really good awareness of the way it works. He’s a good runner of the ball, he’s safe under the high ball.
“He’s making it very difficult for Brad Arthur not to persevere with him because the areas they need to address, they have done and his presence has been a big part of that.”
While Ferguson may be out of favour, rugby league immortal Andrew Johns said he was confident the 31-year-old, who’s off-contract at the end of the year, still has plenty of footy left in him.
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“When he’s on, he’s like an extra front-rower, he gets the sets rolling forward,” told Wide World of Sports’ Immortal Behaviour.
“At this stage of his career, and I don’t how they manage the salary cap, but he would be a $350,000-$400,000 player.
“I think he still has a couple of years to go. When he’s right, he’s the most damaging winger coming out of trouble.”
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