Queensland players insist Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans is ready to captain the Maroons with distinction in the wake of the retirement of their inspirational leader Greg Inglis.
At a press conference on Monday at QRL headquarters Maroons coach Kevin Walters mentioned three current club captains as possible options – Cherry-Evans, Roosters captain Jake Friend and Cowboys skipper Michael Morgan.
Cherry-Evans completed a remarkable return to the Origin arena after a three-year absence last year to steer the Maroons to an 18-12 win in game three and win over his teammates and the Queensland public.
"Daly would be great," incumbent Maroons winger Corey Oates said when asked what sort of skipper Cherry-Evans would be.
"The last few years he has started to play some really good football and really consistent footy. A couple of other blokes in the team could be captain, and it's up to the selectors, but I don't think they'll be picking the wrong bloke. Daly has to be a really good chance to get it.
"He was outstanding last year (in Origin III). He just showed what he can do. He’s one of those players who competes on everything. It's been a good start for him this year and the captaincy would be a massive milestone for him. Daly is respected. He’s been there almost 10 years in the NRL, he has worked hard for his spot and he's now there as our No.7.”
Titans and Maroons forward Jai Arrow said Cherry-Evans would "definitely" make an excellent skipper and said sentiment in Queensland had changed towards him since his infamous back-flip on the Gold Coast Titans.
The way the Manly captain handled himself in the Origin spotlight last year also impressed Arrow, who said Cherry-Evans was one of several possible candidates to replace Inglis.
"I thought he really stood up in game three last year and showed what a quality player he is. He came in with a lot of pressure on his shoulders and did a great job … scored a try and led us around," Arrow said.
"He has been a quality player for many years and a leader of that Manly side as well for many years. Daly is a well liked guy off the field so I think he would do a great job, if he gets the job. I think he is definitely a good candidate."
Oates said Inglis’s retirement was "more a shock than anything" but said he admired the 32-year-old for making what he said was a tough decision.
"He has been a star of the game. He will go down as an Immortal at some stage, it's a no-brainer I reckon,” Oates said.
"I wish him all the best with his next chapter. It takes a strong man to eventually hang up the boots. We all love him so much but he obviously felt it was time. He has to be happy with the career he has had. It's one of the best careers you will ever see."
Morgan is an option to play centre for the Maroons, but Oates said whoever did would never be expected to play like Inglis.
"Dane Gagai could play there. Darius Boyd proved he can play centre. There are plenty of blokes to fill the spot, it's just some huge shoes to fill," Oates said.
"You can never ask anyone to play the way GI played the game. I wouldn't be too worried who they pick, they would do a great job, but doing the same job as GI would be near on impossible."