Ferguson off the drink and on fire for the Roosters

"It's just another mental thing that's a sacrifice that I've made just for myself. It's not like it was a big factor of me playing rubbish footy, that's something that I wanted to do to satisfy myself.

"Sometimes you need to make sacrifices to get better and that's the one that I made.

"What I did over the off-season was just train hard. I just got back to the basics of footy. I think you can get lost in the footy culture and I just wanted to get back to basics and just do what I do best and what I've build my whole career on, which is running hard and tackling hard."

Ferguson looked set for a huge year in 2017 after winning the Harry Sunderland Medal as the Kangaroos' best player during their 2016 Four Nations triumph.

But not everything went to plan.


He and Blues teammate Josh Dugan were discovered enjoying a drinking session on a day off in the lead-up to the State Of Origin decider, and a subsequent drop in form caused Ferguson to be overlooked for Mal Meninga's World Cup squad.

His season petered out with an ordinary showing in the preliminary final loss to the North Queensland.

"I let myself down – I didn't satisfy my own satisfactions last year," Ferguson said.

"I probably only played five or six bad games, but played a bad one against the Cowboys to get into the grand final. For me that was a big motivational thing for me, to be better for my teammates.

"I knew that I needed to sacrifice a couple of things and I feel like I've done that and it's paying the dividends now. Hopefully I can keep the same form throughout the whole season, that's what I'm looking to do."

As for playing State Of Origin again, Ferguson is simply happy to let his football do the talking.

With alcohol no longer influencing his actions, Ferguson knows there was no danger of a repeat of what took place in Blues camp last season.

"What we did was pretty regrettable – I don't live in the past, I don't regret things but I do regret that," Ferguson said.

"Obviously this year's a whole different story because I ain't drinking, so there's not going to be that problem.

"If I keep playing the way that I'm playing, hopefully I get picked.

"I'm not going into every game going 'oh, I need to play good because if I play good I'm going to play Origin', that's not how it works, you just play good and whatever happens happens."

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James Buckley

James Buckley writes on AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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