Cherry-Evans loves Manly captaincy burden
There's pressure and there's scrutiny, but Daly Cherry-Evans doesn't mind it at all. In fact, he's loving it.
Not everyone would want to step into the footprints left behind by Manly Sea Eagles great Jamie Lyon following his retirement in 2016.
And to be frank, Cherry-Evans initially wasn't a hundred percent behind the idea either.
"The role was a little nerve-wracking when I first got told about it, to be fair," said Cherry-Evans, who was announced the new Sea Eagles skipper in January 2017.
Now, 13 months into the role, he's raring to go.
"I really have enjoyed every moment about it, even the ups and downs it brings, and the extra responsibility."
A more enthusiastic club captain you're unlikely to find.
"It's strengthened me, changed me, made me a better player… all of it,'' Cherry-Evans said.
"It's just an enjoyable task for me to do and I'm glad to do it for such an amazing club. I'm looking forward to doing it for another year and hopefully another finals campaign for this club."
Cherry-Evans celebrated his 29th birthday on Tuesday – he's old enough to lead well. He's played 171 NRL games in seven seasons at Manly, including five finals series – so he's also wise enough.
He's played 11 Tests for Australia, six Origins for Queensland, won two Dally M positional awards and is a Clive Churchill Medal winner – he's experienced enough.
And as the only surviving member of Manly's 2011 Telstra Premiership winning team – he has the players' ear.
"Everyone is fitter, older and wiser than last year," the No.7 said.
"There is an expectation for this side, and I have no reason to think we won't improve on last season."
Manly hit a low of 13th on the ladder in round three last year, and reached to a high of third in round 17, before finishing sixth. But they lost their first final 22-10 to Penrith after beating the Panthers 20-0 a week earlier.
"Definitely still burns that match [the finals' loss], especially after the result the week before," said lock Jake Trbojevic.
"To come out and lose like that did hurt. But looking back it was a pretty successful season considering where we came from.
"No-one thought we were even going to be there. So it was a good result I guess but it made us hungry to improve, to be better."
The beginning of the new season hasn't been ideal with Manly in hot water with the NRL over alleged salary cap discrepancies. The after-glow of that has meant the Sea Eagles missing out on some available talent in the player market.
Cherry-Evans didn't find that frustrating from the players' viewpoint, although he conceded club management would have been frustrated.
"As far as I know there's an element of restriction to us buying players," he said.
"With the storm in the teacup of what it is, no, that doesn't frustrate anyone in the playing group because we really can't control it.
"We know those sorts of stories fill papers but we genuinely don't have any control over it; so tend not to worry about it at all."
What is very much in Cherry-Evans hands is guiding and coordinating with new No.6 Lachlan Croker.
"He is an ex-school captain so he's all about staying within the rules and boundaries," Cherry-Evans said with a smile.
"But one hundred per cent that's a good thing for us. He's really bought into his role in this side. So it's going to be exciting.
"He's obviously going to get a chance in the trial (v Sydney Roosters) this weekend, and ultimately everyone within these four walls is cheering for him."