Fitness, friendships on DCE's mind
Sea Eagles linchpin Daly Cherry-Evans is ready to take the clean slate on offer and move on to bigger and better things in 2016, beginning with forging friendships with new teammates and his fight for fitness.
Speaking at Manly's 70th anniversary media launch on Wednesday, Cherry-Evans emphasised the importance of bonding with the club's new faces and coaching staff.
Buoyed by the signings of Queensland teammate Nate Myles and international forwards Martin Taupau and Lewis Brown, Cherry-Evans must also carry the burden of missing out on pre-season training for the short-term after shoulder surgery in September.
Considering approximately half of the Sea Eagles' squad has moved on, Cherry-Evans faced a very different looking set of face upon returning to Narrabeen on Monday.
"I guess what is left is a couple of players in the same colours," Cherry-Evans said. "It's very different but they say change is as good as a holiday.
"I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks and the chance to develop relationships with some of the new guys and obviously the coaching staff as well.
"[Though] contact-wise [I won't be training] until post-Christmas, but I might be able to start training with the team closer to the Christmas break which is definitely a focus of mine – getting back out there and training.
"It's hard seeing the boys run around and pass the footy, it's the one thing we enjoy most but unfortunately it's the one thing I can't do at the moment."
Setting his priorities by focusing on his own backyard Cherry-Evans refused to be drawn into speculation over who may partner him in the halves in 2016, with captain Jamie Lyon, current Kiwis five-eighth Peta Hiku as well as new signings Matt Parcell and Apisai Koroisau all in contention.
"I'd just be guessing. I haven't been able to train with the side yet nor have we done any team work so the best indication will come from Trent," he said.
"Trent hasn't passed any of that inside information on to me yet. I wouldn't say [Jamie Lyon] is a leading contender but there's no secret there that he would be our safest option but time will tell."
Cherry-Evans had a similar response when asked if he is keen to reignite his representative career after being overlooked by the Maroons in their huge Origin III series-deciding win.
"I feel as though I have to play a lot better football for my club first. It might come across as a cliché but I have to play better football for Manly before I put myself in that conversation to play rep footy again," Cherry-Evans said.
"The back end of last year I definitely didn't do that so I feel now is a good position for me to be in. I have expectations of myself and if I can achieve them I can put myself back into those calculations."
After a tumultuous 2015 season where his future in the game was played out from all angles after agreeing then backflipping on the Titans to re-sign an unprecedented lifetime deal with the Sea Eagles, Cherry-Evans continues to move on.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," Cherry-Evans said. "Obviously the media spotlight wasn't something I enjoyed over a long period of time in unforeseen circumstances.
"But I'm definitely very comfortable with what's happened. I stand by the decisions made.
"I feel as if that'll dissipate very soon and I'll be more comfortable within myself and the side as this all continues to move forward."