Former Australia rugby league international Blake Ferguson awaits his sentencing in Japan, two months after he was arrested on drug and assault charges prior to his union debut
Image: AAP/PA Images)
Less than a week before he’s due to appear in court on drug and assault charges, former NRL star Blake Ferguson has spoken out about his ordeal after spending 29 days in a Japanese police station.
Ex- league ace Ferguson was arrested on December 30, 2021, after allegedly beating a fellow patron at a Tokyo restaurant, only for police to then reportedly find cocaine in his possession following a search. The player has said he will be pleading guilty.
The ex-Parramatta Eels and Sydney Roosters staple was due to begin a career in rugby union last month but had his AU$1.5million (£800,000) contract with Green Rockets Tokatsu terminated before he could debut.
It was even reported the club could be prevented from participating in the 2022 Rugby League One campaign as a result of the debacle, with Japan promoting a strict no-tolerance drugs policy.
Ferguson, 31, even said he could “hardly stand up for a few days” after spending such a prolonged period sleeping on a mattress that was “a centimetre thick.”
“It’s been really lonely and boring,” he told the Daily Telegraph of his 29-day hell at Azabu Police station in the Roppongi district of Tokyo.
“Time goes really slow when you’re locked up for a month. I didn’t hear anything from Australia because I didn’t have access to a phone. No contact with my family and no contact with my manager.
“It was just me and some Japanese guys who couldn’t speak English. I read a few books but that was about it. The food was pretty ordinary and I got a really bad back.
“Seriously, the mattress would have been a centimetre thick. I could hardly stand up for a few days. I certainly wouldn’t want to go back.”
Ferguson made his NRL debut for the Cronulla Sharks in 2009 and featured for four teams across a 12-year career in rugby league before deciding to take a crack at the 15-a-side sport.
The utility back also represented Australia in rugby league and played nine times for New South Wales, featuring in several editions of the State of Origin Series.
Due to appear in front of a Japan court on March 3, Ferguson appeared repentant for his actions and was hopeful his accountability would be considered in the sentencing.
“I got myself into this mess and there’s no-one else to blame,” he continued.
“I had too much to drink and put myself into a really s***ty situation. Other than that I can’t say much about the case but I’m hopeful it will work out okay.
“I’m going to plead guilty and hopefully they will show some leniency. It’s important that I accept responsibility.”
He’s not the first rugby player to fall afoul of the strict drug laws in Japan, with New Zealander Joel Everson arrested on suspicion of cocaine use in March 2020 when he was playing for Hino Red Dolphins.
The Southland lock tested positive and was sentenced to 23 days in prison, while Japan suspended all rugby in the country for three weeks, and the Red Dolphins cancelled their remaining fixtures that season.
Green Rockets were allowed to begin their season on schedule despite Ferguson’s discrepancy, and they currently sit third in Conference A of the top division.
Ferguson went on to say he “can’t wait to get home” and see his children (two sons and a daughter), as well as partner Dominique.
“I’ll have to earn back her [Dominique’s] trust,” he concluded. “I’ve let down a lot of people, not just my family.”
A career in rugby union appears over before it ever had a chance to truly begin for Ferguson, with teams very unlikely to take a chance on the would-be convert following his arrest.
Fox Sports reported Ferguson is yet to be approached by any NRL clubs about the prospect of a move back to the league, with the 2022 season set to get underway on March 10.