Blake Ferguson has hit out at rugby league officials for failing to assist with medical costs on his badly damaged nose, but fans have hit back at the former NRL star’s ‘entitlement’.
Ferguson took to Instagram on Wednesday night to say he had broken his nose more than eight times during his 13-year NRL career, leaving him struggling to sleep at night.
Under the current policy, clubs will cover the gap in medical expenses between a player’s private health insurance and the total cost for the first 12 months after retirement.
Ferguson’s last game was at Parramatta in 2021, leaving him outside that window after a failed bid to play rugby union in Japan and a stint in the English Super League last season.
‘After playing 15 years in the NRL system, playing 249 games for four NRL teams, winning a grand final, seven games for Australia, nine games NSW … and breaking my nose over eight times, you’d think they’d fix it,’ Ferguson posted on Instagram.
‘I dedicated my life and body to the game.
‘But no, I have been told because I went to Japan and England and it has been over 12 months, that I’m not eligible for the medical treatment to fix it.
‘What the go? Deadset person struggles to sleep at night and puts bums on seats for yas and you wanna just throw a person to the kirb (sic) once they are retired.
Ferguson posted the graphic image of his busted nose on Instagram and lashed the NRL for not helping to pay for the surgery to repair it
Ferguson was defended by a host of current and former NRL players including Latrell Mitchell and Andrew Fifita
Ferguson’s post has received the support of prominent NRL figures including Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Andrew Fifita.
‘What I’ve witness as a young fulla coming in to a system with you bred showed a lot of professionalism. Love ya bra. Bums in the seat for a game that forgets their biggest assets,’ Mitchell posted.
Earlier, retired Cronulla Sharks prop Andrew Fifita had spoken about how challenging it was to organise the right medical treatment in the 12 month timeframe.
‘I’ve got 12 months to get it done, and I feel like I’m rushing to get it all sorted,’ he said.
‘I find having 12 months is a bit of a s*** go, but I feel like that’s why it’s important what the RLPA is doing [with the collective bargaining agreement].
‘I’ve always heard from past players who said how important it was to get your body checked [before retirement] so you can get all the stuff you need.’
Ferguson celebrates a win with teammate Mitch Moses during his NRL playing days with the Parramatta Eels
However fans have lashed Ferguson, saying he should be made to foot the bill himself.
‘It’s a job, like any other. No one compensates the bricklayer who’s back, knees, etc are gone or the nurse who’s body is broken after years of lifting patients,’ one fan posted.
‘What about the thousands of Amateur players that payed for there own insurance and hospital bills on far less salaries. He should have spent his money a bit more wisely,’ posted another.
‘You chose to play the game at that level and I’m sure you were paid a substantial amount of money while playing so it’s your responsibility. Stop being self entitled,’ fumed another fan.
‘For workplace injuries to be covered by insurance, the claim has to be submitted within a timeframe specified by the insurer. Why should wealthy NRL players be any different?’ asked another.
‘Pay for it out of what you got paid to play. I’ve done both knees painting cars for a living and didn’t get paid anywhere near what these blokes get to play a game they love playing,’ replied another.
‘Mate he can afford to buy a Ferrari,’ said another.
Ferguson scored 161 tries for his club, state and country during a long career that included representative footy and a stint in England
Ferguson and former New South Wales teammate Josh Dugan during a State of Origin training camp
Fergson’s post comes after the Rugby League Players Association pushed strongly in the latest pay negotiations to include longer-term medical support fund for players following their retirement.
Ferguson’s case would likely fit into that, with the RLPA believing his circumstances are an example of why the fund needs to exist to help players injured in the NRL or NRLW.
The need for the fund has been agreed to in principle in negotiations with the NRL but the scope, eligibility and funding still needs to be worked through.
The full collective bargaining agreement will also need to be finalised before anything is enacted.