Ferguson dropped as Eels look for answers

·2-min read

Blake Ferguson has paid the price for Parramatta's poor right-edge defence with the NSW Origin hopeful dropped from the NRL side to face Newcastle on Sunday.

Back-to-back losses to South Sydney and Manly forced Eels coach Brad Arthur into making changes this week and the off-contract former representative star was in the firing line.

It comes as a shock just days after Ferguson was considered a contender for the NSW Origin side for the first game on June 9.

Rookie Haze Dunster will take his place on the wing to face the Knights on Sunday after just two games of NRL from the bench this season with game time totalling 14 minutes.

The Eels are desperate to turn around their troublesome form but will welcome back five-eighth Dylan Brown from suspension.

His knees-first tackle on Drew Hutchison put the Sydney Roosters half in hospital with a punctured lung and broken ribs and earned Brown three weeks on the sidelines.

Brown reached out to Hutchison, who recently returned to hospital with complications due to the injury, to say he was sorry and there was no intent in the contact.

But Brown felt like he had let his teammates down.

"I actually did a little bit. You want to be playing," he said.

"One player out just mixes up the way (we play).

"It's a bit annoying being out but the only way to get my respect back is by playing good footy."

That particular round-nine win over the Roosters had huge ramifications on the competition with Eels centre Marata Niukore spending two weeks on the sidelines for a high shot on James Tedesco.

The crackdown on head and neck contact started immediately afterwards, meaning Brown is returning to a different game than he left.

"I'm not going to lie the last few weeks I've been out I've been watching the game and it's been pretty hard to watch, players being off and we lost some players over the weekend and it's all a bit of a mess," he said.

"We've just got to be careful.

"The rules are there for a reason, we just have to follow them. They're there to protect us.

"In all honesty though, (Hutchison is) in hospital and we don't want that.

"We don't want that happening to our players. The rules are there for a reason, to keep everyone safe."

The Eels have also named Reed Mahoney at hooker, with the dummy-half a chance to be released from Queensland camp if both Harry Grant and AJ Brimson are cleared fit to play in State of Origin.

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