The Queensland halfback position is up for grabs into the future but Daly Cherry-Evans now has the chance to make a statement that he both wants and deserves it long term.
Ash Taylor is on the rise and will play for Queensland one day. Ben Hunt has had his crack and may have to wait a while to get another one, so now the Manly captain is in prime position to be a regular selection.
He needs to take this opportunity and run with it at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
I think Cherry-Evans will do the job that wasn’t done in the first two games and that is lead the team around from start to finish, and take control in the big moments. He is comfortable in that role and has done it at club level so well.
Hunt doesn’t do that as much in club footy. Gareth Widdop controls the game just as much for the Dragons as Hunt, but Cherry-Evans is the dominant figure at the Sea Eagles.
Cherry-Evans does not lack confidence. Last time he was halfback for Queensland he said he felt he was just in a caretaker role until Cooper Cronk returned. This time he can put his stamp on it. If he’s successful then you can’t imagine Queensland will change it next year.
Kevin Walters has said the whole team had opportunities to score more points and ensure a win in the second game. You look to your halfback to step up in those tight moments but unfortunately, Hunt didn’t do it.
Everyone has spoken about the third-tackle grubber that went dead but even apart from that moment, his kicking game wasn’t great. That is the big thing for me. His kicking game was poor.
It was like he reverted to the old "Bronco Ben Hunt" where I would often challenge the effectiveness of his kicking game.
Cherry-Evans always looks more confident and assured with his kicks and I am backing him to fill that role well against NSW.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
I am glad Ben was retained as the bench utility because he can cover hooker and half. This is his first full season of Origin and he doesn’t deserve to be dropped for one bad performance. If he had been left out he could have been exiled and he doesn’t deserve that.
The Maroons still have a lot to play for and they can look back at game three in 2014 for some inspiration. NSW had won the series 2-0 but at Suncorp Stadium it was a 32-8 win to Queensland. Cherry-Evans, Billy Slater and Will Chambers were in that side.
The Blues were cocky back then and talking about establishing a dynasty of their own but that Queensland win kick-started series victories in the next three years.
Hunt and DCE to bring 'balance' to Maroons
Brad Fittler has ensured this NSW side has a different mindset and I don’t think he will allow them to get carried away this time around.
The Queensland dynasty evolved over time. We didn’t big-note ourselves and say we would create a winning run just after one series.
NSW have won one series but I expect the Holden State of Origin arena to be an even contest in the next four or five years.
It hurts to lose a series and Queensland will be hurting. I’ve been there. It is just so important for the Maroons to salvage something from this year on Wednesday night. If the forwards do their job then a big performance by Cherry-Evans will go a long way towards securing a Queensland victory.
NSW will be doing a lap of Suncorp Stadium with the Origin shield at the end of the night but it is important for the Maroons to make them wait until after they have celebrated a win themselves.