Daly Cherry-Evans insists he is ready to be the dominant game manager the Queensland Maroons crave as he aims to stake his claim to wear the No.7 jersey at State of Origin level long-term.
When Queensland coach Kevin Walters spoke on Monday about the 29-year-old Manly captain’s elevation to the Origin arena for the first time since 2015, he outlined the leadership qualities he believed Cherry-Evans would provide, and how he would unlock the best in five-eighth Cameron Munster in game three.
With Ben Hunt reverting to the bench utility role, the Sea Eagles playmaker said he was now well equipped to answer Walters’ call and run the team after maturing into the role he now has in clubland.
"It's not going to be a role I am new to. I would like to think that when I have played halfback for Manly the last few seasons I have been able to take control of the side,” Cherry Evans said at the Maroons fan day in Hervey Bay on Tuesday.
Hunt and DCE to bring 'balance' to Maroons
"I know once I am confident with the game plan and what we are trying to achieve out there the easy part for me is to go out there and execute that.
"I understand at Origin [level] things are a lot more heightened and it won’t come to me too easy, but my job is to go out there and lead the side around so I am looking forward to that opportunity."
As Cherry-Evans reflected on the six Origin games he had played he asserted how he had since learned "to be myself and play to my strengths” rather than try and be someone else.
He knows there are no guarantees for the future but he feels he is more equipped to put his stamp on a position that is up for grabs rather than just be a caretaker, as he felt he was when wearing the seven jersey twice previously when Cooper Cronk was injured.
"Anyone playing halfback in the Origin arena is going to have a nice dark cloud over their head, that just comes with the territory, but I think I am a lot more ready than a couple of years ago when I was given an opportunity," he said.
"I certainly got lost trying to be someone else last time I was playing. It was probably down to how much respect I had for the people playing and the peoples’ spot I was filling in for.
“This time around no one has a stranglehold on the Queensland number seven jersey. I am excited about the opportunity for myself and what we can do as a group.”
He is also excited about what he can potentially do for Munster’s game.
“He’s just a great natural football player and creates so many opportunities just off the back of having the ball in his hands, so one of my roles will be to facilitate Cam and make sure I am getting him plenty of opportunities," he said.
“He's an amazing young player. The more chances he has with the ball in his hands the better we will be. I will make sure I am getting the ball to him, and at the right time and in the right spaces.”
Cherry-Evans also backed Walters' statement that the Maroons would remain loyal to winners, a category he most certainly wants to be in.
"Everyone in the side in this camp has to take that on board. Queensland has always been about rewarding success and people who give everything they have got for the Maroons jersey," he said.
"I will certainly go out there and make sure I am doing myself, the state and my teammates proud
"I have no doubts in my mind that Queensland moving forward are in very good stead
"I have been away a long time and I have to make sure I am grabbing the opportunity to take what is in front of me just for one game. Off the back of that I am confident the rest will look after itself."
Cherry-Evans broke into a wide grin when told that NSW coach Brad Fittler had suggested there would be a welcoming party to greet his reintroduction to the Origin arena.
"Nothing is going to come easy in this game,” he said.
"I will try to make sure I am not running too close to Jake [Trbojevic]. I know how well he can hit. Hopefully the welcome party isn't coming from him.”
Cherry-Evans said he had remained optimistic that he would eventually get the Origin recall from Walters that he had been craving
"It was a really special moment. It was a call that I wasn't expecting to be honest," he said.
"I'm really appreciative he made the decision to put me in. Now it's up to me to reward that decision."
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Origin at Suncorp, there's nothing like it! Game III tickets available here