NRL's best winger granted centre stage

Parramatta's Blake Ferguson (c) has scored four tries playing on the wing for the Eels this season.
Parramatta's Blake Ferguson (c) has scored four tries playing on the wing for the Eels this season.

He's currently the game's best winger, but Blake Ferguson has been granted a long-held wish of being centre stage at Parramatta.

Ferguson will play centre for the first time in over two years when the Eels host neighbourhood rivals Penrith at Bankwest Stadium on Thursday.

It's a position the big-money star has been begging coach Brad Arthur to play for most of this year, despite winning last year's Dally M winger of the year award.

"He's been wanting to play for a while there. Tells me he's the best centre in the game, so we'll see," Arthur said on Wednesday.

Asked whether he thought Ferguson could be, Arthur said: "He can do anything, that bloke if he puts his mind to it."

It was only during his premiership-winning campaign with the Roosters last year that Ferguson became just the third player to crack 5000 metres in one season.

However the return of George Jennings last week opened the door for Arthur to experiment with shifting one of his best players into the three-quarter line.

"George was one of our better backs last year, and so it's trying to fit them all in, and Fergo's been wanting to have a crack in the centres," Arthur said.

"We haven't had the opportunity so we'll give him the opportunity this week. We're happy with our wingers returning the ball and get their metres.

"We need to do what's best for the team and it wasn't best for the team before, but now we've got George and Maika (Sivo) who can play that role.

"Fergo's going to be one of those centres that's busy and go to the ball, so his involvement's not going to drop."

The decision comes just days before Ferguson finds out whether his exile from the NSW State of Origin team will end.

The 29-year-old considered a serious contender, along with Canberra's Nick Cotric, for the vacant wing spot due to Tom Trbojevic's injury.

"I haven't thought of it, and he hasn't talked to me about it. His priority is playing well for the Eels and for his teammates, playing for his jersey," Arthur said.

"If that helps him or hinders him, it's not really a factor in what decisions we make here."

Australian Associated Press