DCE 'left door open' for Titans renege
Admitting his part in the haphazard nature of contract negotiations, Daly Cherry-Evans said he always "left the door open" for Manly to offer him another contract to stay, following news the halfback had reneged on his rich four-year contract with the Gold Coast Titans to sign an unprecedented "lifetime playing contract" with the Sea Eagles.
Manly CEO Joe Kelly remained coy over the exact details of the contract, but the 26-year-old had no trouble admitting his main ambition was always to remain at Manly.
While he isn't the first player to backflip on a contract – and probably won't be the last despite the NRL's best efforts to introduce a 10 day cooling off period following a contract being signed – Cherry-Evans's backflip is a double-blow for the struggling Titans, who allowed current half Aidan Sezer to move on to the Raiders in 2016.
"I definitely left the door open for this speculation to continue because to be honest I was always curious to know what offer was going to be on the table from Manly," Cherry-Evans said when announcing his new contract on Wednesday.
"There wasn't one [on the table] when I last made my decision [to go to the Titans] and as a young man who wanted to be here all along and had ambitions to be a one-club player, their offer and the opportunity to stay here and be a one club player [was too good to refuse].
"Job security in rugby league is something many don't have and it was something I was offered and something I was more than happy to take up. It's been a tough decision to make over the past 48 hours but it's one I'm comfortable with."
Struggling to hide his delight over staying at the Sea Eagles, noting he can now afford to relocate his family on the Gold Coast to Sydney, Cherry-Evans apologised to the Titans for breaking his contract.
"I am sincerely sorry to the Gold Coast Titans but I just hope they understand that this was a decision that was made best for me and my family. They have the right to be angry but it's something I can live with knowing that I've done the best thing for me," Cherry-Evans said.
"Neil [Henry] was very happy I called him personally and that he didn't have to hear it second-hand. I think he appreciated that but I don't think it took away the disappointment.
"I couldn't apologise enough to Neil. I strongly believed in Neil's plans moving forward and as I said up until this offer was put forward I was going to the Gold Coast – there's no doubt about that."
While Cherry-Evans understood the contradictory matters at hand in terms of his backflip, he was quick to point out that he hadn't broken any rules nor played outside of them.
Asked if he had any regrets over how it all panned out, Cherry-Evans said "yeah probably..." before Sea Eagles chairman Scott Penn interrupted by labelling it an "unfair question".
Taking the heat of his star signing, Penn said Cherry-Evans' new deal was a reflection of the competitive nature and contract negotiations of the NRL, which were revisited once Kieran Foran signalled his intentions to head to Parramatta.
"[Cherry-Evans's deal is] a circumstance of time. Late last year and earlier this year when we were discussing contracts and then we pulled back our initial offer, it was a negotiation tactic which didn't work in our favour," Penn said.
"But when Kieran came up with his decision, it gave us another opportunity to come back to the table, understand some of the issues and do what we had to do to make him a one-club player."