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Daly Cherry-Evans after playing with the Prime Minister's XIII in 2018.

An unexpected World Cup 9s call-up from Australian coach Mal Meninga will make Daly Cherry-Evans a lot fitter heading into the Oceania Test matches.

"To be honest, I was on the couch when I got the call," the Manly skipper told about his addition to the squad following Cody Walker's withdrawal.

"So it quickly gave me a kick up the butt and I started to increase the running. I was somewhat ready because I knew I had the Test matches coming up.

"But I did increase the workload and I'm feeling really fit and healthy and excited to play this format again."

Cherry-Evans was speaking at the 2019 Players' Champion awards, where he was voted Halfback of the Year by his peers in the RLPA's "Players 13 Dream Team". It was his first major award since winning the 2014 Dally M Halfback of the year.

The World Cup 9s won't be Cherry-Evans' first foray into the modified game - he played for Manly at the 2014-15 Auckland Nines.

Nine players to watch at the World Cup 9s

"So it's not unfamiliar to me, but I can't help think this is going to be an even higher level of footy," he said.

"To play alongside some of my teammates, some of these youthful superstars like Josh [Addo-Carr], Ryan [Papenhuyzen] and Kalyn [Ponga], will be amazing."

The Manly skipper is hoping the RLIF tournament will prep him nicely for the Kangaroos Tests against New Zealand (October 25) and Tonga (November 2).

World Cup 9s Player Focus: Kalyn Ponga

"I think there's certain elements I can take to sharpen my skills for the Aussies. One thing I've learned is not to look, or plan, too far ahead," the incumbent Test No.7 said.

"I'll focus in on these Nines because any time you play for Australia you want to win. I definitely want to win a World Nines now that I'm involved in it.

"I want to play my role as best as I can and if that means being in better shape for the Aussie Test matches that's a massive silver lining."

A valued positional kicker in any side, Cherry-Evans has been working a little harder on his ball skills to make sure his delivery to the outside backs is on-song.

"There's always a high level of importance in kicking for any NRL game and Nines will be similar. But the crispness of passing has to be top-shelf," he said.

"There's going to be a lot of space and opportunity at times. If your passes are at someone's feet, or behind them, then you are slowing down momentum of your outside backs.

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"It will be those backs who win you the most games."

Looking at the competition, the Maroons skipper said Fiji and the Kiwis look the toughest to beat.

"I think Fiji will be extremely unpredictable in the style they play. They have plenty of ability and they've shown through their Sevens rugby program. It will be ad-lib and fast.

"But then there's New Zealand. They will be really tough with players like [Jamayne] Isaako, [Ken] Maumalo, [Charnze] Nicoll-Klokstad, Shaun Johnson and Dylan Brown weaving things together.

"I also think Nines will throw up a few surprise packets."

Australia's first game is against the Kiwis on Friday night.


For ticket and travel packages for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, head to

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