Cherry-Evans in new-look Maroons team for Origin III
Daly Cherry-Evans has been presented with a golden opportunity to cement himself as a long-term Queensland halfback after being named in the number seven jersey for game three of the State of Origin series.
Billy Slater will captain the Queensland Maroons in his final State of Origin match and Cherry-Evans, Tim Glasby and Corey Oates have all won recalls for the side to play NSW at Suncorp Stadium on July 11.
The 35-year-old Slater replaces Greg Inglis as captain after the South Sydney star broke his thumb in the win over the North Queensland Cowboys in Cairns.
Cherry-Evans returns to the Maroons fold for the first time since 2015 and will wear the number seven jersey with Ben Hunt retained as the bench utility in the absence of the injured Kalyn Ponga (hamstring).
Broncos winger Oates will play his fifth Origin game on the wing after last representing Queensland in game three in 2017.
Melbourne Storm premiership-winning forward Glasby, who was 18th man for game two of this year's series, will play off the bench as he did in both of his previous games for Queensland in 2017.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters said the side had been selected with two aims. One, to win game three and avoid a whitewash. Two, with an eye on the future.
If Cherry-Evans, who has played six games for Queensland, can inspire the first of those two goals he will be well on the way to securing a starting jersey in the 2019 series.
"I think it is great news for DCE and great news for Queensland. He has been knocking on the door for several years now waiting for that elusive opportunity and I thought the time was right now for that opportunity to be presented to him," Walters said of the Manly captain's selection.
"We've picked him because we want to win game three... with another eye on the future as well. Moving forward, if DCE can have a good performance on Wednesday week there is no reason why he can't be back here next year."
Walters, who rubbished rumours that Cherry-Evans was in some way out of favour with the Maroons camp, said the Manly captain was "a great, experienced player" and just what Queensland needed given the situation they were in.
"He is a premiership winner. He's played Origin football and Test football. In games one and two we just lacked a bit of leadership in those [halves] positions. I think he provides certainly all of that," Walters said.
"DCE has been in great touch for Manly and just that experience around the halves is something we haven't had this series. It is an area that, we haven't been let down in, but an area we can get better in.
"The addition of DCE will help Cameron Munster's game and we will see a much better, fluent game from Cameron than we have in the first two games."
Walters said Hunt belonged at Origin level and said the interchange role was one where he could shine and cover hooker and the halves.
Hunt was criticised for his performance in game two for not icing the game when it was on the line but Walters said to blame the Dragons half for the loss in Sydney was "absolutely ridiculous".
"We had 16 other players out there and we had our opportunities to win game two and we didn't win them, and that is the reason for the change," he said.
"We've made some slight adjustments in different areas and we feel that is the best move going forward to get a win in game three."
Walters said it would be "a special moment" for Slater to captain the Maroons in his last game for Queensland.
"The other 16 players in this team owe Billy Slater a send-off that is just right for Billy," Walters said.
"Sending Billy out a winner is a real positive and we need to get a win in this year's series to kick us off for next year."
Oates' selection has come on the back of consistent starring performances for the Broncos where his freakish finishing ability and powerhouse kick returns have come to the fore.
He will play on the left wing with Dane Gagai switching to the centres and Valentine Holmes moving to the right flank. Oates also has the opportunity to make a case for becoming a regular in the Queensland side.
"That is one of the nice phone calls that you get to make. Corey has been knocking on the door since his last appearance and no doubt will be looking for a strong game to cement his spot," Walters said.
"We'll play him on the left wing. That is where we've seen in clubland this year what he can do. If he can pull off one of those tries at this level, which he has in the past, that will be a huge bonus for us."
Broncos prop Joe Ofahengaue was close to making his Maroons debut but the reliable Glasby got the nod.
"Tim has been a player who has excelled at this level for us. He's won both of his games in the Maroons jumper," Walters said.
"Tim has got 'team' all about him and that is what we want for game three. It is going to be a real team effort, particularly given the injuries to a couple of our players. We need everyone on board and everyone playing at their best. I know having worked with Tim in the past he gives nothing but his best."
The Maroons have reshuffled their forward pack with Titans powerhouse Jai Arrow and Canberra's Josh Papalii starting in the front row. Titans prop Jarrod Walace will come off the bench.
Dylan Napa was named 18th man and will join the Maroons in camp but is not expected to be considered after injuring his knee for the Roosters in the 9-8 loss to the Melbourne Storm in Adelaide.
Queensland Maroons team for State of Origin III
1. Billy Slater (c) (Melbourne Storm)
2. Valentine Holmes (Cronulla Sharks)
3. Dane Gagai (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
4. Will Chambers (Melbourne Storm)
5. Corey Oates (Brisbane Broncos)
6. Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm)
7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles)
8. Jai Arrow (Gold Coast Titans)
9. Andrew McCullough (Brisbane Broncos)
10. Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders)
11. Gavin Cooper (North Queensland Cowboys)
12. Felise Kaufusi (Melbourne Storm)
13. Josh McGuire (Brisbane Broncos)
14. Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons)
15. Jarrod Wallace (Gold Coast Titans)
16. Coen Hess (North Queensland Cowboys)
17. Tim Glasby (Melbourne Storm)
18. Dylan Napa (Sydney Roosters)
Coach: Kevin Walters
Origin at Suncorp, there's nothing like it! Game III tickets available here