Penrith players say they are readying themselves for a fired-up Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans to take out his frustrations on them after controversially being overlooked for an injury-hit Maroons squad for the Origin series decider next Wednesday.
Despite losing star playmaker Johnathan Thurston as well as Broncos fullback Darius Boyd – who played centre in the Game Two win – there was no room in Queensland coach Kevin Walters' 17 for Cherry-Evans, who has been arguably the form half of the competition over the past eight to 10 weeks.
Walters instead opted to debut Melbourne's Cameron Munster and Brisbane's Ben Hunt and Munster – who seems likely to play centre for Boyd – has been in strong form and has a combination with the large Storm contingent already in the Maroons team.
However Hunt – despite impressing a fortnight ago off the bench against the struggling Raiders – has spent time either injured, coming off the bench or playing for Ipswich in the Intrust Super Premiership recently, on the basis he offered more off the bench.
Panthers prop Tim Browne – who spent time with Cherry-Evans in the Manly system in 2009 – said he was "shocked" the Manly captain was overlooked for Queensland duties.
"I played with Cherry at the start of my career at Manly," Browne said.
"The form he's been in, it's good for NSW [that he's been overlooked]. I'm a New South Welshman so I don't really care. For Manly this weekend they'll be stoked to have him and I'm shocked [Queensland] didn't pick him."
 Telstra Premiership: Daly Cherry-Evans
Try Assists, Line Break Assists, Total Kicks, Tries.
Browne laughed off rumours Cherry-Evans was out of favour with the Maroons hierarchy.
"He looks like a very humble and mature sort of a kid, very switched on so I can't see why anyone would have a problem with him and if they did you'd think they'd put it aside to have the best team on the paddock. That's their loss," he added.
Browne's fellow Panthers prop James Tamou was equally surprised that Cherry-Evans would be at Pepper Stadium on Saturday, rather than in Sanctuary Cove preparing for the most highly-anticipated Origin clash in recent memory.
"DCE, I'm sure he'll turn it on," Tamou said.
"He's been going well, I don't think he has too much [of a point to prove], I think he was just very unlucky."
Like Browne, Tamou wasn't copping suggestions Cherry-Evans was on the nose in Queensland.
"I don't believe that one bit. I think he's just been unlucky," Tamou added.
"There's always new blood coming through, my situation as well [getting overlooked for NSW this year]. That's just how it is. He's obviously doing well, he's a better player for it I guess."
Penrith desperately need a result against the third-placed Sea Eagles if they are to keep their fading finals hopes alive and the presence of Manly's in-form skipper makes that job considerably harder – but Browne said he'd prefer it that way.
"It will be good to play against a team like this and really test ourselves and it's one we're all looking forward to," he said.
"[Cherry-Evans] is a great player. But I'm glad he's there because if we get the win it would be good to get it against a team that has their full roster, we need to really take some confidence out of that game."