Walters says Maroons No.7 jersey is DCE's to lose
After just one game back from interstate exile, the Maroons camp agreed that Daly Cherry-Evans belongs on the State of Origin stage.
After the 18-12 game three win, Queensland coach Kevin Walters and outgoing captain Billy Slater detailed how Cherry-Evans took ownership of the team from the day he went into camp for his first Origin appearance in four years.
"Daly was great tonight; he was in everything," enthused Walters.
"I'm really happy for him and I think that will put to bed now all those myths and all the talking about what sort of person he is and secondly that he wasn't welcome in the Queensland set-up.
"What is underestimated sometimes - and Billy pointed it out earlier in the week - is his toughness too. He's defended in the middle at Origin level and tonight he defended on the edge.
"We saw the real DCE stand up and he was in everything we were doing."
Walters says the Queensland No.7 jersey – worn almost exclusively by Johnathan Thurston or Cooper Cronk for a decade – is now Cherry-Evans' his to lose.
"He is a great position now and he would have to be doing not quite so well now to lose it, it's his."
Slater, after his 31st and last game for Queensland, was even more impressed.
"I was impressed with Daly Chery Evans coming into the side," he volunteered.
"He led us around all week. He learned the game plan, in his spare time he came up to a few of us and worked on our combinations. He wanted to understand the plays. I think that number seven jersey is his for a long time to come. He's very experienced now; he was very impressive."
The breakthrough in game three for Queensland is that the future now appears a lot clearer.
Ben Hunt had the game-management role in the first two games but came up a little short. But Hunt showed what impact he can make off the bench as hooker after relieving Andrew McCullough.
And Cameron Munster, on the left edge, is the perfect foil for Cherry-Evans. And although Slater is now a FOG [Former Origin Great], Kalyn Ponga steps into his shoes to complete a new spine that has shown it can function.
Walters says he may have found the perfect role for Hunt.
"He belongs in this arena, that's what we always knew as selectors," he said.
"It was finding the right role for him to play and tonight he showed how good he could be. He's dangerous, he's got a good kicking game, he's a tough little bugger and out of dummy half he can pick and chose when he runs. It suited him perfectly tonight.
And Munster fed off the authority.
"Over the series he's got better and is learning how dominant and how good he can be at this level," said Walters. "When he understands how good he can actually be he'll be an even better player at this level."
Munster could have dropped his bundle after throwing the intercept pass that gifted Tom Trbojevic a try in the 37th minute. He dropped his head as he headed back to the try line but showed his character to recover quickly after the break.
"It was great to see him [come back from the error]; that's Cameron Munster, he doesn't let things get to him," said Slater.
"It was good to see him not go into his shell. He fought back from that pass … and made the winning line break to seal the game for us."