State of Origin may have taken its toll but Manly have backed Daly Cherry-Evans to return to NRL duty in the right frame of mind as they eye off a top-four finish.
Cherry-Evans prides himself on his ability to back up from Origin but the Queensland captain raised eyebrows when he was sidelined ahead of Friday night's 32-18 win over St George Illawarra on the Gold Coast.
Two nights earlier DCE had led Queensland to a stirring 20-18 Origin III upset, capping a demanding Origin campaign in which the Maroons' leadership and culture were questioned and everything from his game plan to his body language came under fire from Maroons great Cooper Cronk.
But Manly coach Des Hasler said Cherry-Evans would be in the right headspace for their top-four tilt after savouring a rare break.
"He compartmentalises things pretty easy - he's fine," Hasler said when asked how Cherry-Evans had coped with the Origin backlash.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Dragons
"Now we've got the run home. The intensity around those games will really pick up.
"But we can build on that win now, build a bit of momentum on our time up here (in Queensland bubble)."
Cherry-Evans' halves partner Kieran Foran said it had been a late call to rest the playmaker but was confident it would have a long-term benefit for the Sea Eagles.
"He's been in and out of camps for the past six weeks and he has backed up for us time and time again," Foran said.
"And that third Origin was a real nail-biter and a lot of those guys would have pulled up extremely sore for us.
Schuster with a no-look special for Foran
"It's great he is able to freshen up and hit the ground running next week."
Instead of playing, Cherry-Evans became part of a $3 million-plus cheerleader squad on the Gold Coast, joining Jake and Tom Trbojevic on the sidelines as Manly earned a morale-boosting victory over the Dragons.
Foran was inspirational, scoring a try and setting up another while 20-year-old Josh Schuster (two line breaks, one try assist) was enormous at halfback and back-rower Haumole Olakau'atu (one try, try assist, five tackle busts, 120m run) was a beast.
Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic are due back in round 19 against Wests Tigers with prop Josh Aloiai and second-rower Curtis Sironen also expected to bolster their depth in coming weeks.
But Foran believed the win over the gutsy Dragons had shown the Sea Eagles could win no matter who they had on the field.
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"For our group to get a game like that with the blokes we had on the sideline is pretty impressive," he said.
"We all knew once Daly got ruled out that everyone had to play an extra role. But everyone shoulders that.
"This side is so unique because everyone brings something different."