NSW forward Jake Trbojevic is surprised his Manly teammate Daly Cherry-Evans hasn’t been a regular member of the Queensland team recently and expects the Maroons halfback to be one of the dangers for the Blues as they attempt to complete an Origin series clean sweep.
Trbojevic, who was the NSW player’s player in Origin II, said Cherry-Evans had played consistently well for the Sea Eagles over a long period of time and deserved his selection for Queensland at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday night.
However, the Manly lock is mystified at the Maroons reluctance to pick Cherry-Evans for the past three years - his last appearance being halfback in the second match of the 2015 Holden State of Origin series.
"They have had great players so it is hard to argue with the selections but I am surprised because he is such a great player and he has been playing such great football that his hand is always up and he is always putting himself in the mix," Trbojevic said.
Cherry-Evans played five consecutive Origins in 2013 and 2014, four of which were off the interchange, before being called in to replace the injured Cooper Cronk at halfback in 2015.
Michael Morgan and Ben Hunt had been preferred ahead of Cherry-Evans this year but Trbojevic said his form for the Sea Eagles had never waned.
"He has been in great form the past couple of years so he has always put his hand up," Trbojevic said.
"He does all the little things. He has got all the skill in the world as you see every week, but his kick-chase … he works really hard and he is actually a very good defender.
"He wins a lot of his rucks, he is always in the moment, and he does all of the little things right. Aside from the fact that he is such a good player he does all of those things.
“He has been awesome so I think it is a well-deserved selection and a good reward for some good form over the last few years."
Trbojevic said he had sent Cherry-Evans a message of congratulations after his selection but their friendship would be put on hold for 80 minutes next Wednesday night.
"I'd love to go up there and finish the series off on a positive note and raise the trophy after a win," he said. "It would be pretty deflating if we didn’t win."
Despite being chosen on the interchange, Trbojevic has played more minutes than any of the other NSW middle forwards in the first two Origins of 2018.
Blues coach Brad Fittler credited him for helping the team to hang on in the last 10 minutes of their 18-14 win in Origin II after centre James Roberts was sent to the sin bin.
"I was so proud of everyone for the way we kept defending because it was so hard, they have some great players," Trbojevic said. "There was so much on the line, you have invested so much and everyone wants to win.
"It was a team effort, they were real team wins which was what was so good about it. Everyone took a lot of joy out of it and was able to celebrate together because everyone put in, it was awesome.”
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