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The Parramatta Eels have told Blake Ferguson he will not be at the club beyond the end of next season, opting against extending the contract of the former NSW winger.
The Herald can reveal the Eels informed Ferguson's management a fortnight ago that there won't be a spot for him at the club after the 2021 season. Ferguson, who joined the club from the Sydney Roosters in 2019 on a three-year $1.5 million deal, still has another year to run on his contract.
Blake Ferguson has been told 2021 will be his final season at the club.Credit:NRL Photos
The Eels aren't actively forcing Ferguson out of the club, but nor would they stand in his way should he land an extended deal at a rival club.
The Eels have had internal discussions about Penrith winger Josh Mansour, who is also aware of Parramatta's interest, however the club is not in a position to take the next step unless Ferguson was willing to move on.
Both Mansour and Ferguson are managed by Sam Ayoub, who recently claimed there had been no discussions around Ferguson's future at the club. The manager appears to have left out some of the details surrounding Ferguson's situation in a recent article in The Daily Telegraph.
"That has never been a discussion. I am his manager, no one has pushed it to me," Ayoub told the Telegraph about the possibility of Ferguson moving on earlier in the week.
"As for Parramatta having interest in Josh Mansour, that has never been a discussion. I met with them a week and a half ago about a raft of issues at Parramatta. Not once was there a discussion around pushing Blake.
"In actual fact, can I tell you what was said to me: ‘We are looking forward to Blake (playing in 2021). We know it is a year he is coming off contract. He will want to have a good year and we are looking forward to that’. That is exactly what was said to me."
Ferguson had a sensational first season at the Eels but struggled to find the try line in 2020, and as a result lost his spot in the NSW State of Origin team.
Ferguson still has plenty to offer, however the Eels have given him plenty of notice to find another club for 2022. If Ferguson wants to move on immediately, the Eels won't stand in his way and could trigger a flurry of movement before the Christmas break. In other player transfer news:
- The Wests Tigers are willing to offer Mansour a contract for 2021 and 2022, however the winger is holding out for another year on top.
- The Bulldogs' hopes of Penrith releasing Matt Burton in 2021 appear slim with the Panthers making plans to play Burton at centre next year pending Brent Naden's rehabilitation from alcohol-related issues. Canterbury are one of several teams, including Cronulla and Melbourne, hopeful of finding out Burton's long-term future within the next week.
- The Wests Tigers are considering offering James Roberts a one-year deal on $150,000 with strict conditions, similar to the one-strike agreement he had with South Sydney.
- The Parramatta Eels are waiting for the NRL Integrity Unit to finish its due diligence on Bryce Cartwright before they can announce the back-rower's signature. The NRL wants to make sure everything is above board before the Eels announce the $130,000 deal.
- Stephen Crichton will meet with the Panthers in the next few weeks to discuss the fallout from the handshake agreement gone wrong. Crichton's manager will argue he is worth more than the $1.5 million, three-year deal that was agreed upon mid-season. He is expected to remain at Penrith but on a more lucrative deal.
- Josh Aloiai has been ordered back to training on November 30 despite mocking club chairman Lee Hagipantelis. The Tigers won't release him until there is an advantage outcome for the club.
- Jason Saab is still agitating for a release from St George Illawarra to link with the Manly Sea Eagles.
- Penrith fullback Daine Laurie has agreed to a two-year deal with the Wests Tigers from 2022. His manager Matt Desira had requested an early release to play first grade with the Tigers in 2021 but the request has been denied at this point.
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