Michael Cheika is under pressure to hold onto his job as director of rugby of the NEC Green Rockets, after the arrest of one of the team’s players.
Former NRL star Blake Ferguson was allegedly arrested for possession of cocaine, which has resulted in the Australian having his contract torn up with the Green Rockets before the Japanese Rugby League One season has even started.
According to FoxSports.com.au, Cheika, who signed Ferguson, is now under pressure to hold onto his job in Japan, a country which takes a “zero tolerance” approach to drug use.
The Green Rockets released a statement explaining that they have released Ferguson from his contract, and promised to donate profits from their home games this season to the league, which will be used in an effort to prevent drug use.
The Green Rockets’ statement on Blake Ferguson.
“We deeply apologise for the arrest of Blake Ferguson, a former contract player of NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu, on December 30, 2021 for a serious violation of the law of possession of illegal drugs. We will continue to fully cooperate with police investigations. For former Ferguson players, the player contract was canceled on January 2, 2022,” the statement reads.
“Until now, the team has been thoroughly observing compliance and calling attention on a daily basis, but as a result, it must be said that efforts such as disseminating and thoroughly disseminating to new contract players were insufficient, and this situation we take it seriously.
“As a result of careful consideration based on this situation, we will strive to restore trust by playing with all our strength, and we will fulfil our responsibility for sports promotion such as rugby and regional revitalisation, so Japan, on January 8, 2022, we have decided to participate in the opening round of Rugby League One.
“As a matter of course, we are seriously aware of the concerns and inconveniences caused to the league, related parties, and fans due to this matter, so a part of the profits of the host game of this term will be used as an absolute measure against illegal drugs in the league.”
— NECグリーンロケッツ東葛 /NEC GREEN ROCKETS TOKATSU (@nec_gr_official) January 4, 2022
Michael Cheika is already feeling the heat.
The Japanese Rugby League One season has yet to start, but already former Wallabies and Leinster head coach Cheika is under an immense amount of pressure due to his involvement in the signing of Ferguson.
Rugby authorities in Japan have taken drastic measures in response to drug use by players in the past, after the Top League (now Rugby League One) suspended all league matches in March 2020 after the arrest of a Hino Red Dolphins player for alleged illegal drug use.
However, the season was already halted on a temporary basis at that point due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and was ultimately cancelled due to public health concerns.
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