Daly Cherry-Evans says he’s got his “eye” on replacing Johnathan Thurston for Origin Three after a sublime performance in Manly’s 35-18 drubbing of Cronulla on Sunday.
Thurston’s absence for the rest of the season through injury has provided a golden opportunity for Cherry-Evans to exorcise his Origin demons after failing to shine in the majority of his six appearances for Queensland.
The Sea Eagles captain has not played for the Maroons since 2015 but is arguably the form No.7 of the competition leading the NRL with try assists and launching the northern beaches club into the top four for the first time since 2014.
Amazingly, Kevin Walters did not mention Cherry-Evans when asked who would replace Thurston, instead saying Ben Hunt, Corey Norman, Cameron Munster and the out of form Moses Mbye were contenders to wear the Queensland No.6 jersey.
And Cherry-Evans was listening.
“I’m not going to lie- I’ve been thinking about it,” Cherry-Evans said.
“There’s an opportunity that’s arisen so I’ve definitely got my eye on it but I am not naïve to what Kevvie’s been saying lately but I am going to keep putting my head down and try and change his- mind.”
Maroons legend Justin Hodges said Walters would pick Cherry-Evans with the premiership-winning half’s form too scintillating to ignore.
“I think Kevvy will pick him, purely for the fact he’s a big game player, it’s Game Three, it’s all on the line and he’s playing some great football,” Hodges said.
Hodges said Cherry-Evans’ ad-lib style would perfectly combine with Cooper Cronk’s methodical play and suggested Walters give the former Kangaroo a license to roam.
“If I was Kevvy, I’d be sitting down with him in camp saying: ‘Mate, I want you to play the same style of football you’ve been playing for Manly, don’t change that’,” Hodges said.
“I think that’s where he’s probably gone wrong before, playing for Queensland I think he’s probably been trying to do what everyone else wants to do instead of what he wants to do.
“So If I was Kevvy I’d be sitting him down and saying: ‘Mate, you just keep doing what you’re doing for Manly because it’s working.”