History shows the NRL can forgive but Wendell Sailor hopes Blake Ferguson never forgets the lessons learned from his exile if granted a rugby league comeback.
No stranger to off-field controversy, Sailor has backed fallen Canberra star Ferguson to become the latest player to be welcomed back to the NRL fold.
Ferguson’s career is in limbo after being found guilty of indecently assaulting a woman while celebrating his NSW State of Origin II selection.
The 23-year-old will be sentenced on February 3.
NRL Integrity Unit boss Jim Doyle said the verdict “would be strongly considered” if a rival club attempted to sign Ferguson for 2014.
However, Sailor believed the NRL would show faith in Ferguson – and hoped the flyer would return it.
“I think rugby league is a very forgiving game, take me for example,” said dual international Sailor, who copped a two-year ban for cocaine use.
“And other players who have been in trouble, Todd Carney, Ben Barba … if you respect the game, it’ll respect you back.
“I think he’s learning a few lessons here and I thought it would hurt him missing those two Origins and this other stuff (assault).
“It’s been a bit tough for him and I certainly feel for the young lady.
“But I hope Blake understands the impact he can have on other people’s lives if he comes through this a better person.”
Sailor knew all too well about the tough times that lay ahead for Ferguson.
“He’s found himself in a bit of trouble but I think he’ll come through it,” he said.
“He’s got `Choc’ (Anthony) Mundine around him now. Hopefully Blake comes through this because it’s going to be a real tough period for him.”
But Sailor believed the former Raiders X-factor was on the right track under the wing of his cousin, NRL player-come-champion boxer Mundine, and snubbing alcohol.
“I think he’s a nice kid … but I think alcohol and him don’t agree,” he said.
“You never hear of football players or any sort of person doing anything bad when they don’t drink.
“I know with all my mistakes, alcohol was involved with it.
“Without the alcohol he could have a really good representative career down the track but hopefully he gets an opportunity somewhere.”