Revealed: What awaits Blake Ferguson in Japanese prison cell

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  • Blake Ferguson
    Australian rugby league player
Pictured here, Blake Ferguson playing for the Parramatta Eels in the 2021 NRL season.
Blake Ferguson was arrested in Japan allegedly in possession of illegal drugs. Pic: Getty

Blake Ferguson won't have much contact with the outside world as he sits in a Japanese prison on drug possession charges – and that might not be a bad thing because he won't like what he reads.

A quick Google check would show Ferguson he's not the first footballer to fall foul of the country's strict drug laws. 

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New Zealand rugby forward Joel Everson, who was playing for Hino Red Dolphins, was arrested by Tokyo police after acting in an unusual manner in the early hours of a Wednesday morning back in March 2020.

After undergoing a urine test, traces of cocaine were found in the forward's system and the impact was immediate and dramatic.

He spent the next 23 days in jail, with contact restricted to letters from his wife – translated from English to Japanese so guards could read them – and briefings with a friend which had to be conducted in Japanese.

While Everson's world was caving in as he sat in his cell, the image-conscious Japan Rugby Football Union took the extraordinary step of suspending the entire Top League competition for three rounds while it launched an extensive investigation into drug use in the competition.

Pictured here, Blake Ferguson in action for the Parramatta Eels in 2021.
Blake Ferguson in action for the Parramatta Eels in 2021. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

"We believe that we have betrayed our fans and society, and we need to work diligently to restore trust, and we need to take even more advanced measures," the JRFU said in a statement.

"Rugby competition consists of five core values: dignity, passion, unity, discipline, and respect. If any one of these is missing, it's not rugby."

Everson later told Stuff.co.nz: “It was just embarrassing really, the whole situation. Letting down the family, the whole rugby community, and to a degree (New Zealand) as well."

In 2019, another New Zealand player – Stephen Yates – was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence for possession of cocaine.

Prosecutors had argued for a 30-month custodial sentence.  

Blake Ferguson's Japan adventure off to rocky start

Ferguson hasn’t even played a game for Japanese League One side NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu, but has caused widespread embarrassment and shame after allegedly becoming involved in a physical altercation with a man at a restaurant.

It led to police intervention and a search, which allegedly found cocaine in Ferguson's possession.   

Japan has strict laws on drugs, with offenders facing up to five years in prison for possession of cocaine.

Alleged offenders can spend more than three weeks in jail before their case is heard.

One Japanese website advises foreigners: "In Japan, drug use is viewed chiefly as a criminal matter, with emphasis placed on its eradication through intolerance and punishment."

Australian embassy officials in Japan are assisting Ferguson, but it is unlikely to be a quick process given the seriousness of the allegations and the legal complexities.    

Whatever the outcome, the troubled ex-NRL star's rugby career appears over before it's begun.

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