The NSW halves behind DCE's Maroons rise
After three years on the Origin sidelines Daly Cherry-Evans is ready to succeed as a Queensland Maroons playmaker and he credits three former NSW halves for helping take his game to the next level.
The 29-year-old halfback has been given a clear assignment by coach Kevin Walters for game three of the Holden State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium and that is to give the side more direction, while playing his natural instinctive game.
Think of the Maroons great playmakers of the past – from Wally Lewis and Allan Langer through to Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk – and their success has been founded on passion for the jersey, preparation, skill and tactical nous.
Cherry-Evans acknowledges his three Manly coaches Des Hasler, Geoff Toovey and now Trent Barrett, all former Blues halves, for inculcating the qualities in him that have led to his recall to the Queensland side since last playing in 2015.
"I have been spoiled for riches with Des, Geoff and now Trent," Cherry-Evans told NRL.com.
"The best thing I got out of Tooves was understanding how important the club should mean to you, and how every time you wear the jersey you represent more than just yourself.
"He certainly ingrained in me what that club stands for and how proud a club it is. Every time I put on the Manly jersey I know that Geoff Toovey was a big part of why I go out there and play as passionately as I do."
One of the major reasons Cherry-Evans has been recalled for Queensland is because he is not just the individual star he was in his early days. He has become a game manager and improved his tactical nous, and seven years after last being coached by Hasler he still applies lessons he learned from the Sea Eagles legend.
"I got a completely different take from Des to Tooves," Cherry-Evans said.
"Des gave me the structure early on in my career around preparing well tactically for game day. There are things I learned from Des that I still do to this day around preparing for the opposition.
"He knew that whatever the opposition was doing, he was doing more. He could make his players go out and understand that they had prepared better than their opponents and therefore given themselves every chance to win."
Barrett is young as a coach, but wise to what is required in the modern game, and another major influence on where Cherry-Evans is now at.
"Trent is recently retired and still has a good grasp on how the game is being played at the moment and the skills and tactics needed to win football games.
"I've taken a lot out of Trent's mindset to football and that is rubbing off on me. He cares so much about his players and how the club is going. That really rubs off on the playing group. We love playing for our coach because he is a great person."
The way Cherry-Evans has conducted himself in Maroons camp this week suggests that caring ethos of Barrett's has been embraced by the Sea Eagles skipper.
He has been open and frank with the media and has brought energy and enthusiasm to his interactions at training and in camp that has given the Maroons a lift at just the right time.
There is a feeling that Cherry-Evans' time has come for Queensland and it is a vibe that he can also sense after last being in camp in 2015.
"As soon as I walked into camp it has just felt different to previous years. It really has," he said.
"It is exciting that I have so much support around me, not that I didn't have that previously, but with a couple of older heads gone it is a completely different dynamic around here.
"I have come in three years later, and all of a sudden I am the old guy in camp. When I first came in I was the young guy looking up to all the older guys but now I can feel myself being the old guy looking around at all the younger fellas."
The Cherry-Evans of three years ago is not the player or man we see today. He is also convinced that his development will be of benefit to his team as the Maroons aim to avoid a clean sweep.
"I really am excited and I feel as though what I have been able to build at club level around leadership should be able to rub off in camp and hopefully I can make a slight improvement on the side moving forward and get a result on Wednesday," Cherry-Evans said.
"Three years is a long time in rugby league so I have had a lot of time to think and develop. It is crazy to think that people have the same question marks over my footy, and I think it is crazy to think that I haven't developed over three years as a footy player that's for sure."
Origin at Suncorp, there's nothing like it! Game III tickets available here