Manly captain and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans is primed for a shock recall to the Queensland State of Origin team after receiving a call from coach Kevin Walters. Cherry-Evans hasn’t played on rugby leagues biggest stage since 2015, with reports emerging that he had personality conflicts with (now retired) Queensland legend Jonathon Thurston.
Queensland have been searching for a game manager to take over at halfback after incumbent Ben Hunt had a forgettable game in Origin 1 this year, followed by a horror performance in game 2. There have been loud calls for his replacement, although most were for the in-form Ash Taylor to take over.
Hunt has not been dropped completely, however – he will take over the utility bench position left vacant by a hamstring injury to Newcastle wunderkind Kalyn Ponga.
With the weekend’s injury to Greg Inglis Walters has chosen to go for the experience (and especially big game experience) of Cherry-Evans, who has played previously for both Queensland and Australia and won a premiership with Manly. Munster also seems to be a similar style of five-eighth to Kieran Foran, who was Manly’s other half during Cherry-Evans’ most successful years.
The Sea Eagles captain is also a handy goal-kicker, which would have been a factor in his selection after game 2 was decided by the extras added by James Maloney, with each side scoring 3 tries but the Maroons missing 2 conversions.
The new Queensland half has big shoes to fill, with Cooper Cronk and Thurston retiring from representative rugby league this year. If he can direct Queensland to a win, which is easily possible based on the dominant forwards display shown in game 2, he will find himself in the box seat to lead the state again in 2019 as they attempt to win back the crown.
Despite Manly’s position on the NRL ladder Cherry-Evans has shown over his career that he is a top class game manager, and is very capable of producing big plays with quality players around him. If he can reproduce his best form Queensland will be in with a genuine opportunity to avoid a clean sweep and hit back at Brad Fittler and the Baby Blues.