QUEENSLAND coach Mal Meninga says the shock defection of Maroons halfback Daly Cherry-Evans to the Gold Coast next year will be the making of the man and the club.
Cherry-Evans had a mortgage on rugby league headlines for the early part of the year as he weighed up his future and departure from Manly.
Ultimately, DCE decided to join the Titans, becoming the foundation stone the club will attempt to rebuild on after being forced to the brink of collapse, joining the
Gold Coast from 2016 on a four-year deal worth more than $1 million a year.
Meninga said while he could sympathise with Manly, having lost their premiership, Origin and Test halfback, Meninga believes the union between Cherry-Evans and the Titans is a great result for the game as a whole.
“I think it is a great deal for Daly, but I think it is also one of the biggest moments in the Gold Coast’s rugby league history,” Meninga told fogs.com.au.
“From the game’s perspective, we need rugby league to be strong on the Gold Coast, and that means we need the Titans to be strong.
“We are all aware of the troubles they have had there recently, and we are all equally aware that the AFL have made a lot of headway on the Gold Coast recently with Gary Ablett and the Suns.
“Daly can be that man for the Titans. He is obviously a very high quality player, and that will help the Titans to build a competitive team by attracting good players, which is good news for the fans and sponsors.
“But Daly brings a lot more to the table as well.
“He is a young, good looking kid, with a young, good looking family. He is professional, responsible and a very articulate spokesman for the game.
“He is a very marketable sportsman, and that will help the profile of the club enormously. It just also happens that he is an excellent player as well.
“Daly is exactly the man the Gold Coast needed to build their future around. They have done exceptionally well. And at the same time, I commend Day on stepping up to take on the challenge when there were probably easier options available to him.”
Meninga said those speculating that Cherry-Evans might “clock off” this year with Manly now that his future loyalties are somewhere else did not know the 26-year-old’s character.
“He has given the club great service,” Mal said. “He is a great kid. And he is such a professional, he will be determined to keep doing the job for Manly.
“Knowing Daly, I think he will be even more determined for Manly to be successful this year, so there is no way anyone could be pointing the finger at him and the decision that he has made.
“He would want to leave the club on a successful note because he is such a competitive individual.”
Meninga believes the entire process of Cherry-Evans deciding his future with the Gold Coast and dealing with the strain at Manly will only add to his maturity as a man and a footballer.
“It will be a great learning curve for him,” he said. “He has mentioned before that all he can control is what he does, and that is the right way to look at it.
“If he stays singleminded about what he wants to do, and he has great support from his family, friends and teammates, then he has nothing to worry about.
“There will always be an element of fan criticism, particularly if the team does go through a rough patch this year. But that can be dealt with easily as long as he has that support of the people closest to him.”