Off-contract Eels winger Blake Ferguson is now back in a good place after an off-season outside an NRL bubble.
Ferguson was heavily scrutinised for last year's try drought, in which he didn't cross until round 17 and recorded his first single-digit try tally since 2010 at the Sharks.
However, his yardage game remained vital for the blue-and-golds with plenty of tough carries which were sorely missed in the two games in which an ongoing knee complaint sidelined him.
Both matches were both by the Eels, including the semi-final against Souths.
Other off-field struggles including the intense demands of the COVID bubble only added to the pressure on the 2018 premiership-winner.
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Ferguson says he is in a better place both on and off the field as he looks to fight for his Eels career, rejecting reports that he has been told he won't be offered an extension at the Eels regardless of how 2021 pans out.
"It was just shit last year," candid Ferguson said.
"COVID was something else, everything else on the field then all the media talk that was being thrown out about non-tries, there's nothing I can do about that. I just let it go.
"Last year was just weird to be honest. It would have been for everyone.
"I'm just looking forward to this year, I don't really want to speak too much about last year, it was a horrible year off the field for me. I've fixed a lot of things I needed to fix, I'm very happy with this year and the way I'm tracking."
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Some down time over summer was also just the tonic for his troublesome knee, he added.
"It's good – really good. Had a long break, came back. It needed time," he said.
"I'm looking forward to starting this year off with a bang. It's been a good off season for myself. I've got a lot of work in with the club to fix a few things on the field I needed to fix and I'm excited about this year."
Ferguson didn't want to specify what those areas that needed attention were.
"You'll have to see when it comes out but it's going to be different," he said.
"I feel way more content on the field than what I did three years ago. I want to be the best Blake Ferguson for my teammates ... I want to be the best for my teammates, this isn't about me, it's about my teammates.
"Rugby league is like a roller coaster, you can't stay up for too long. You've got to have a little leap year. You can't be up for that long, all the best players have a leap year. Maybe last year was my leap year."
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Ferguson said he had asked coach Brad Arthur whether reports he was unwanted by the club after this year were true and got a denial.
"For me it was a big shock [hearing that] to be honest but that's rugby league, you're not guaranteed a position every year, you just have to work hard, show them I'm capable of being the best winger," he said.
"I asked [Arthur] about it. It was a shock at first, I went to him and he goes 'nah, that's not the truth' so we'll just go with that. I'm not worried at all.
"It's a results-driven business. At the end of the day they want to see results. If we're not doing that on the field then the players have to move on. It's the way rugby league's been built.
"I've got a young family I have to look after as well. I want to be loyal but I also want to be the provider as well."