BLAKE Ferguson knows he hasn't always been perceived in a positive light by football fans but he hopes to turn that around starting with a big performance in Saturday night's NRL All Stars match in Brisbane.
Three years ago the Wellington product was a relatively unknown 19-year-old when he got a late call-up into the Indigenous side when Brisbane's Justin Hodges was injured.
Fast forward three years and the Canberra Raiders winger has earned his spot in the side courtesy of fan voting and is looking forward to starting his season in style.
An ugly exit from Cronulla at the end of 2010 coupled with various other issues have hindered his reputation but Ferguson, now 22, is keen to make amends.
"I'd like to try and kick off this season the way I finished last season because I think I was in pretty good form late last year," Ferguson said.
"I want to try and change my image and it's nice to be picked in this side because it is picked by the fans of the game. I've done some silly stuff but I'm keen to let my footy do the talking this year."
The All Stars game, a celebration of rugby league and the role Indigenous people play in it, has become the annual season opener since it was first played in 2010.
And after three months of hard training in the nation's capital, and a week in camp with the Indigenous side, Ferguson is ready to go.
"It's hard because we started training in Canberra on November 7 and this is the first game I'll play so it's been a hard slog but we got here," he said.
"It's been different for me this time because I've had the whole camp to prepare and it's a big game for the Aboriginal people.
"I've got family and friends on the Gold Coast and they are all coming up to watch and I know a lot of the other boys in the squad have similar support."
Ferguson is one of five Raiders in the Indigenous side, including other central west products Joel Thompson (Forbes) and Jack Wighton (Orange).
Bathurst's George Rose will also be part of the action.
"I know most of the boys, we're all pretty tight, but it's good having so many blokes from the Raiders here and involved," Ferguson said.
"It's also good that there's so many boys from our area in the game as well. Everyone out that way in Wello and the central west loves their footy."