New Queensland halfback Daly Cherry-Evans hopes the fact he has made it back into the Origin arena will end the speculation that others didn't want to play with him, or that he was a disruptive influence.
"I'd like to think so," Cherry-Evans told NRL.com, adding that coach Kevin Walters and former Maroons skipper Cameron Smith had spoken many times of their admiration for the Manly playmaker.
"They'd have to be really good actors ... because they had me fooled if they didn't mean all that."
Some might say the departure of the old guard of the Queensland team has gone – through retirements and natural attrition – is why Cherry-Evans is back for next Wednesday's third game of the Holden State of Origin series.
"Look, if that is the case, then so be it," Cherry-Evans said on Tuesday, prior to his arrival at Hervey Bay for the team's fan day.
"I can't change what's in the past. All I've got is what's in front of me and I'm extremely excited about working with a new playing group, coaching staff, and my role within all that."
Cherry-Evans: Why I didn't pick up Walters' call
Of course, if NSW pull off a clean sweep at Suncorp Stadium, the fingers might be pointed at Cherry-Evans again as he will be the starting No.7, relegating Ben Hunt to the bench.
"I'm still really excited about my role moving forward. If I'm honest it's completely different to what it's been like when I've previously played halfback for Queensland," he said.
"I know in previous times I was realistically filling a spot for someone who was injured. This time I've been given an opportunity to play my role, to play the way I play with my strengths at club level.
"Kevvie has identified that about me not becoming someone else, or someone's protégé. It's about me to be the best payer I can be – that's why I've been picked."
If in the shadow of Cooper Cronk, both Hunt and then Cherry-Evans are seen to have failed, the Sea Eagles skipper is ready.
"It comes with the territory," he said.
But the 29-year-old will never forget the phone call from Walters, recalling him to the Maroons for the first time in three years.
"It's a call I'll never forget," he said.
"There's certainly been moments I thought I had been jumped in the pecking order, so to speak. I felt I was falling down more than I was climbing back up to getting a start.
"At times I thought it would be too far away and unrealistic. But through I always retained some optimism and confidence in my own ability."
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