With a third of the regular season done and dusted, Manly halfback and Kangaroos utility Daly Cherry-Evans is happy to say his side – equal competition leaders after eight of 24 games played – has earned a pass mark so far.
With regular NRL taking a week off heading into Representative Round, in which Cherry-Evans will feature off the bench against New Zealand on Friday night, the Manly playmaker marked a stunning return from a one-week injury layoff with arguably the most dominant individual performance of any player so far this year in a 54-18 rout of Canberra at Brookvale Oval on Sunday.
He had a hand in seven of his side’s nine tries against Canberra and was named on the Kangaroos bench shortly after full-time.
“We really committed to everything we were told to do from Geoff and we executed really well. We needed the Canberra side to be a bit off guard and that was the case,” he said.
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Of the opening seven-try blitz which allowed his side to race to a 42-0 lead in the 33rd minute, he said that was just the way it panned out.
“There was a lot of hard work from my inside men and my forward pack, they did a great job and I’m really grateful for the way that they set up the match,” he said.
He also said debutant five-eighth Jack Littlejohn settled into his role well filling in for the injured Kieran Foran, who is out for a month with a knee injury.
“We had no doubts about his ability, it was just a matter of him getting an opportunity. He took that opportunity today and played really well,” Cherry-Evans said.
Of his side’s strong start to the season, he said the six from eight record is “definitely a pass mark in the first third of the season”.
“It’s a good platform and we’ll hopefully build, and continue to stay in that top four where we want to finish after Round 26,” he said.
Cherry-Evans said despite his side having plenty of momentum, the week off for representative round was not an unwelcome interruption – rather, it was a great opportunity for the numerous Manly players nursing niggling injuries to have a rest and get their bodies right.
Glenn Stewart spent time off the field against Canberra with an ankle injury, Anthony Watmough battled through with an elbow injury, and Jamie Lyon’s afternoon finished after 54 minutes due to a knee injury.
Today was a very good game, I felt the people around me really helped get that result today. Outside of that I haven’t had any stellar games so I was fortunate today that I played some good football and hopefully press my claims for this afternoon’s announcement.
“I think it’s a bit of a hospital – there’s a few people with ice packs on them, some of the boys are just being extra cautious because we have a week off so they’re getting iced and recovering as best we can,” he said.