Queensland halfback Daly Cherry-Evans can now put a forgettable Manly season behind him as he looks towards the State of Origin series, but first he will have to train with "the enemy".
Speaking to NRL.com outside Gosford's Central Coast Stadium after Manly lost 40-28 to the Warriors to end his club football for 2020, Cherry-Evans now looks towards the Maroons campaign.
First up that will mean training with NSW Origin players – and Manly teammates – Jake and Tom Trbojevic.
"I dare say we're going to be at Narrabeen together over the next couple of weeks," Cherry-Evans said.
"I'll definitely be using that time to make sure I'm keeping fit. And more than likely it will be alongside Jake and Tom.
Match Highlights: Warriors v Sea Eagles
"I need someone to pass to and run with. It would be silly of us not to bounce off each other and get those footy skills working."
Initially, Cherry-Evans is looking forward to exiting the club's "bubble" and having a mental break from football before entering the Queensland set-up.
He is concerned about losing match fitness ahead of Origin I on November 4 in Adelaide but will do everything in his power to keep his body in prime condition.
"I'll make sure I get the right amount of Ks in the legs and it'll be a good chance to do weights more aggressively, like I'd do in a pre-season.
"I'll just keep fine-tuning things to keep my body right."
Sign up for a free NRL Account to access this video and other exclusive content.
Not sure? Learn more about an NRL Account.
He won't let the nightmares of the Sea Eagles season haunt him for too long.
"It just went from bad to worse – that's the best way I can explain it," he said of Manly finishing 12th in 2020 after finishing sixth last season.
Another damning statistic is the Manly defence, which conceded 446 points in 24 games last year, swan-dived to 509 points from 20 games.
"We had such high hopes and expectations of ourselves. Internally we thought we had a genuine chance of playing finals footy," Cherry-Evans said.
"Injuries were a bit part of our season but they weren't the defining problem.
"Along the line there somewhere we lost a fair bit of mental resilience, confidence, belief. The bad stuff started to build and unfortunately that became contagious. We just couldn't get clear of it."
As halfback, Cherry-Evans had a variety of five-eighth partners from Dylan Walker to Lachlan Croker, Cade Cust and Josh Schuster.
There could be another with Kieran Foran coming into the mix with the former Sea Eagles premiership winner expected to return. Cherry-Evans doesn’t know where his former halves partner might play but he adds depth with Manly's spine at hooker or five-eighth.
Blair farewelled with powerful Haka
"We've definitely got (No.6) depth next year. Josh got a game, Cade played another 10 games or so, so we're getting more experience and that's only going to help us next year with those important spine positions," Cherry-Evans said.
"Whoever plays No.6 I just hope they get the opportunity to play a full season. I'd love the whole season alongside the one person to build some combinations.
"I know me and (fullback) Tom (Trbojevic) will pick up right from where we left off this year. I guess our hooking role is TBD – to be determined.
"There's a question mark over when Manase (Fainu) will be back because he's obviously the hooker of choice, but I thought Lachlan Croker made massive strides as a hooker this year.
"The fact he played a full season with some of the injuries he's had in his career is massive for him.
"So we've got some nice pieces to pull together. Yes, I'm looking forward to the break but I'm still very excited about what Manly can do next year.
"I'm certainly not scratching my head about 2021. I'm really optimistic."