‘Fergo’ and Napa – The NRL needs them
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What’s the deal? Blake Ferguson regardless of whether you think he’s a superstar or a downtrodden troublemaker has produced a simply scintillating Rugby League career to date. He has featured in 247 First-Grade matches, crossing the famous white-line 124 times. Whilst also playing in 16 combined games for NSW and Australia, scoring six tries. That’s a strike rate of about 0.495 tries per game or a try in nearly every second game.
Dylan Napa is another polarising athlete who is in the same boat as Ferguson. He’s a Premiership winner and a man who in his prime, was considered one of the premier props in the game. He represented Queensland many times and even got to pull on the Cook Islands jersey on three separate occasions.
Throughout the course of this week, it was announced that Ferguson had secured a new deal for 2022 … but where? It was also let known that Napa will be a big part of Canterbury’s massive clean-out and will no longer rep them from next season onwards. These players may have suffered some serious brain fades, or worse off the pitch, but on it, there’s no denying the impact that they could potentially have on any given side.
I’ll go through each player one by one to see what’s up and where they could potentially land.
Where could they land?
Current Parramatta Eel – Blake Ferguson
Starting off with Blake Ferguson, he would no doubt be a great asset to any team, there are no two ways about it. He’s clearly very talented. When he wants to he can score tries in bunches. He knows how to help cultivate a winning culture. And, if he could cut the off-field antics, he could be an excellent role model for lots of young kids advancing through the system,, both at the club and at the grassroots level.
Ferguson would assimilate well into a lot of starting line-ups or even coming off the bench as a weapon x-factor. And one team name that comes to mind is the Wests Tigers. With Moses Mbye currently their Fullback and Michael Chee Kam a Second Rower playing in the backline, one would have to think that ‘Fergo’ would easily displace either of them.
Mbye’s come up with just one try from 21 games this campaign and Chee Kam is at one try as well, albeit just from seven appearances. In comparison, Ferguson has scored in nearly 50% of his clashes this year, 6/14. While not to mention one other big criticising factor coming out of the Tigers critics this campaign is that they’re not aggressive enough. Ferguson would bring that BIG TIME! And he may well thrive under the tough love that Michael ‘Madge’ Maguire would give him. Whilst he wouldn’t really have to relocate that far at all moving from Parramatta to Leichardt. This really seems like a match made in heaven for both sides!
Manly could also be a ‘smoky’ option for Ferguson if he opts for a winning environment over money. That being especially so if both Suli and Walker depart at the end of the season. Averaging 157 running m’s per match, ‘Fergo’ could even go up a level or two with all the space that Tommy ‘Turbo’ creates courtesy of his feline-like feet.
And similar to what Maguire could provide in terms of rejuvenating his career, Desy might be able to do the same for him as well. He did it with both Suli and Walker, why couldn’t he do it with Blake too? This would allow the current Eel to play out of his skin for a season then attempt to land a bigger, better-paying gig for perhaps the last portion of his career.
He also bagged 36 tries over his 60 games for Canberra and despite the less than acrimonious circumstances in which he departed the club. A return to the Nations Capital isn’t out of the question. He used to tear it up there with Josh Dugan in his heyday and the Raiders evidently need mass changes based on how they’ve gone this season.
And if nothing else the leadership he could potentially provide to their younger brigade i.e., players such as Bailey Simonsson and Harley Smith-Shields would be massively beneficial in them learning better ball positioning and how to better position themselves to create/contribute to try-scoring opportunities. If … he was to get his head in order that is!
Current Canterbury Bulldog – Dylan Napa
Now onto Dylan Napa. How feasible is it? I don’t know, but a return to the Roosters where he won the 2018 Premiership would certainly do him no harm, given he played arguably his top Footy with the Bondi-based club. And whilst it’s difficult to imagine, at least at this point in time, him forcing his way into their starting 13, even coming off the pine he could do some serious damage against the League’s ‘worse’ players.
For the Bulldogs, this season he’s played in 17 games and is averaging just short of 100 running m’s per game, and his tackling is on point. Perhaps in that regard, he’s aged like a fine wine, at 28 years old he’s going on a 90% success rate, 380/421 overall. Having made just two errors, he’s also a fairly clean player when it comes down to the small details.
He would certainly be serviceable to the Roosters in one way or another. The Tigers too could do worse, a lot worse actually than acquiring his services for a season or two given they’ve leaked 20+ points throughout 15 different matchups this campaign. Instantly Napa helps to erode away at that problem. Potentially re-signing with the Bulldogs couldn’t hurt either given they sorely need players of his calibre filtered throughout the side for both defensive purposes and general leadership purposes.
Brisbane is perhaps an offbeat option for Napa to pack his bags and head too, but also not a crazy one. Looking at a young kid like Thomas Fleger who’s talented, but also rough around the edges, Napa could be vital for him in terms of career development. The 22-year-old Prop has given away nine penalties this season and been put on report four times. Dylan could help fine-tune the kids’ technical skills, and even help rotate in and out for him, potentially if the Broncs view him as a sustainable long-term option (Fleger), which they very well should.
Wherever Ferguson and Napa ultimately end up is anybody’s guess. However, they are no doubt both guaranteed to each have a fair list of suitors if they don’t already. Even when the games aren’t happening … the rumour mill is always in full cycle. The NRL just keeps on giving and these two are a big part of that.
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