Just two hours after they were reunited in the NSW Origin team, Blake Ferguson and Josh Dugan got together to toast the occasion. The boozy night out that followed cast a pall over the Blues camp before it had begun.
Nine minutes after his name was read out by NSWRL chairman Dr George Peponis, Blake Ferguson was congratulating Josh Dugan on his return to State of Origin.
"Congrats to big joshy Dugan very happy for you bra :) @Josh_Dugan #wereback," he said via social media, where it has all gone so wrong for the pair before.
By 6.30pm the former teammates were at Northies, the popular nightspot in Sydney's south, and were happily posing for photographs. Shortly after 10pm, they had made their way to 2230 Restaurant and Bar, where they were seen drinking champagne straight from the bottle.
But by about 10.30pm, Ferguson's proclamation that he and Dugan were "back" was in some doubt - before they had even hit camp in Coogee.
A woman had made a complaint against Ferguson that would lead to a police investigation - and a dramatic first day of camp yesterday.
How did a night of celebrations turn so sour, having begun so positively? What is clear is that it did not take long for the pair to unite over drinks after they were reunited in the Blues squad at 4.45pm.
Dugan had told club officials that he had "appointments", which we now know to be a night out with the player he'd shared a boozy rooftop with earlier in the season.
A witness contacted by Fairfax Media said both players were happily posing for photographs at 6.30pm at Northies, where they'd had dinner.
With Northies closing at 10pm, they joined partygoers walking up the Kingsway on their way to 2230.
"I was standing pretty much next to them for 10 to 15 minutes waiting for mates that hadn't come in yet," the witness said.
"They were getting photos taken with them and skolling champagne straight out of the bottle, both of them. There were a couple of bottles there as well.
"I saw [Ferguson] try to kiss a couple of girls and they gave him the cold shoulder.
"The girls that were taking the photo ... he went up to them and said something to one along the lines of 'I know you've got a kiss for me'. She just brushed him."
Dugan was "all right", the witness said.
"He was only skolling champagne when people were asking to get photos with him. But they were still drinking it straight out of the bottle - no glasses."
The real trouble started after Ferguson had been refused re-entry to the premises. Ferguson snuck through a rear door that opened into the kitchen area, after which the alleged incident took place.
The woman is believed to have reacted, slapping Ferguson on the face.
Dugan has told friends that although he was present, he did not see the incident that led to the complaint.
The nightspot's licensee, Scott Matteson, said Ferguson was drinking with Dugan at the nightspot on Cronulla Street.
"They [Dugan and Ferguson] were both here," Matteson said.
"I know they were down here and something happened.
"I left early but my staff finished late."
Matteson said police had come to speak to staff when the bar was still open and asked to view security footage.
"We always co-operate with police," he said.
There is no inference that Dugan has done anything wrong.
Others also claimed that Ferguson had been abused on the night. Former State of Origin winger Eric Grothe jnr said Ferguson had been hassled by patrons.
"Blake Ferguson was abused repeatedly at club 2230," Grothe tweeted yesterday.
"My mate witnessed this. I don't know if anything happened before or after this incident."
Both Northies and 2230 would have been well known to Ferguson, who spent two NRL seasons at Cronulla before switching to the Raiders in 2011.
The players stayed in Cronulla last Sunday night and were picked up by Dugan's St George Illawarra teammate Trent Merrin in the Sutherland Shire early yesterday morning ahead of reporting for NSW duty at 10am.
FERGUSON’S TIME IN THE NRL
NRL games: 101
March: Makes NRL debut for Cronulla in round-one clash with Penrith.
January: Called up to play for the Indigenous All Stars, following injury to Justin Hodges.
July: Angers Cronulla fans by announcing he plans to leave the club in order to play for a team capable of winning a premiership.
August: Signs two-year deal with Canberra.
April: Makes NSW Country Origin debut and named man of the match, scoring a double in 24-22 loss to City.
May: Suspended by Raiders for one week, along with Josh Dugan, for breaching the club’s alcohol policy by reporting to training while drunk.
November: Removed from a music festival after reportedly spitting on patrons.
January: Walks out of emerging Blues camp because of personal issues, but later apologises to NSW coach Laurie Daley.
March: Finds himself in trouble after drinking with Dugan instead of turning up to a recovery session. Ferguson is fined $10,000, banned for one week and ordered to undergo counselling sessions. Dugan is sacked.
March: After serving one-week suspension, Ferguson returns and vows to stay off alcohol for six weeks to turn his season around.
May: Makes his State of Origin debut for NSW in a 14-6 victory.
June: Named to take on Queensland in game two alongside Dugan. After a drinking session, Ferguson is charged with indecent assault and axed from the Blues squad following an alleged incident at a Cronulla nightspot.