QUEENSLAND coach Kevin Walters insists Daly Cherry-Evans can fit into the Maroons’ system and says he has rocketed into contention for the No.7 jumper vacated by Cooper Cronk.
The push for Cherry-Evans’ Origin career to be resurrected is gathering steam after he dominated Maroons rival Corey Norman in Manly’s 54-0 rout of Parramatta in Round two.
It has been three years since Cherry-Evans played the last of six Origin games.
In his only two matches as a starting halfback, the Maroons lost on both occasions, including a 26-18 loss to NSW before 91,513 fans at the MCG in 2015.
It has fuelled a perception the Manly skipper can’t deliver in the code’s toughest arena.
There have also been queries about Cherry-Evans’ ability to work with senior Queensland players, but Walters says DCE has not been blacklisted under his regime.
“It’s nonsense – Daly fits into our system,” Walters said.
“He showed great responsibility at Manly last year and now he has to do it again to get back there in the Origin arena.
“I believe ‘DCE’ can succeed in Origin – 100 per cent. The form he showed last year for Manly was the best of his career.
“If he can bring it out again this year, I wouldn’t have an issue giving him the Queensland No. 7 jumper.”
With Queensland’s scrumbase ripped apart by the representative retirements of Johnathan Thurston and Cronk, Cherry-Evans, Ben Hunt and Michael Morgan are leading contenders for the halfback spot.
Amid the criticism and whispers about his relationship with Queensland players, Cherry-Evans copped his axing on the chin and vowed to work harder.
Three years on, the 29-year-old is adamant he is an improved player who can still get better. He doesn’t fear Origin football.
“My self-belief hasn’t been squashed over my past Origin performances,” Cherry-Evans said.
“I still feel I have a lot to give as a player, and any side that I’m in I feel I can contribute. The last three years of going back to NRL and working on my game, I can’t see how that won’t improve me as a rep player.
“Adversity in rugby league is everywhere, but it has made me a better player. When you miss rep sides, at the time you think it’s the end of the world. But after the dust settles, you realise it’s just a game and you try to learn from it.
“Queensland jumpers are up for grabs and I’m definitely not naive as to the number of guys who are in the running for the halves spots.
“There’s probably half-a-dozen genuine contenders for those Origin jerseys.
“If the opportunity arises to play Origin again, I feel I’m ready.”
Cherry-Evans has minimal experience dealing with Walters and would relish the chance to be mentored by the Broncos legend.
“I have never been coached by Kevvie actually,” he said. “He was an assistant to Mal (Meninga, former Queensland coach) when I was in Origin camp a few years ago, so I definitely understand the style and philosophies he follows in rugby league.
“Kevvie is a very good coach and it’s a reflection of how Queensland won last year. The way they adapted to the opposition was sensational. After game one, people thought they were gone, so for Kevvie to make some changes and execute new game plans, it was a great sign.”