Vengeful Cherry-Evans drags Manly to top
Geoff Toovey had planned to give halfback Daly Cherry-Evans a well-earned rest in the wake of Wednesday's brutal Origin encounter, only for the Maroons star to convince his coach to throw him back into the fray just 72 hours after Queensland's heartbreaking defeat.
Cherry-Evans, who was clearly hampered throughout the 6-4 loss with a knee injury that had been the subject of an enormous amount of pre-game speculation, looked far more comfortable in the Sea Eagles' 26-0 rout of the Sharks on Saturday.
The returning halfback laid on three of Manly's five tries, including two in as many minutes for reserve forward Tom Symonds, while also running and kicking freely before being rested late in the second half with the result in the bag.
Toovey revealed after the match that Cherry-Evans only had a 10 minute run with the side on Friday, but had managed to convince his coach he was right to suit up for his second stint in three days.
"He was really keen to play," said Toovey of Cherry-Evans after the game.
"I think he wanted to move on from the State of Origin and I think he did that tonight.
"It's too early for to me assess him [physically]... but I'm more worried about him mentally, and that's why he did play – he said he was ready to play and he wanted to play tonight."
Manly's win, their 10th over the Sharks in their last 11 encounters, pushes the Sea Eagles ahead of the Panthers on for and against at the top of the NRL ladder.
Given the side's effort when last coming off a bye in Round 12 - a 36-10 thumping at the hands of the Broncos - Toovey admitted that the side's second week off in the space of a month had the potential to disrupt their preparation heading into the clash with Sharks.
But he said he was proud of the way they responded in holding Cronulla scoreless on their home turf.
"If you look at the records of teams coming off a bye, they don't perform too well, so we were aware of that and we've struggled with that in the past as well," said Toovey
"It's a tough game and you need a rest from time to time, but it is difficult when you get out of that routine with the bye and to come here particularly and try and have a win at Cronulla... it's a great effort for us defensively to keep them to a nil score line which I'm very pleased about.
"We're not reading too much into it today, but it is a good win here at Remondis. [They're] a very tough, very physical side Cronulla and I thought our boys played well."
Toovey did not believe five-eighth Kieran Foran had much to worry about despite being placed on report for an ugly high tackle on Sharks fullback Nathan Gardner in the 46th minute, while also indicating veteran Glenn Stewart's recovery from ankle surgery is on track and that the lock forward is expecting to return to the playing paddock over the next 3-4 weeks.