Daly Cherry-Evans’ omission from Queensland’s State of Origin squad will only be Manly’s gain, according to Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett.
Cherry-Evans will get his first chance to take out his Origin fury on a desperate Penrith at Pepper Stadium on Saturday night.
Barrett said Cherry-Evans had not been ill-affected by the decision to overlook him, and instead believed it would only act to fire him up further to continue his career-best form.
“He was down in the dumps for about half a day and he was back into it,” Barrett said on Friday.
“His right of reply is on the field tomorrow night and over the back end of the season.”
Cherry-Evans openly aired his frustration earlier in the week, but has vowed to not be left kicking stones.
Instead, he promised to put the energy towards ensuring Manly make a dominant charge at this year’s finals series to claim his second NRL title.
“When you’re close and you miss out, I guess that hurts more than not being in the race at all,” he said.
“At the end of the day, I can move on now knowing that it’s not to be this year and I’m going to continue to work hard here at Manly and try and push forward to these finals.
“It’s hard not to, as a captain, sort of think bigger picture and where you can possibly end up with the squad we have, and the coaching staff being able to implement their game plan.”
According to Barrett, Cherry-Evans is the form halfback of the competition with 20 try assists, 16 line-break assists and two 40-20s – second to only Cameron Smith.
Crucial to Cherry-Evans’ turnaround has been the regeneration of the Sea Eagles’ team.
Five-eighth Blake Green’s addition has given the team a second point of attack, evidenced by the fact they have forced 30 dropouts between them – more than any other combination.
Manly are also ranked second in attack, while Barrett has been clear in the fact this has become Cherry-Evans’ team in 2017, crucial given the departure of a number of long-serving players.
“I’ve got a lot of people to thank around the team and probably even a few people externally that I didn’t know this time last year,” Cherry-Evans said.
“So I’m grateful for where we’re at as a club, and definitely individually.
“I think there’s only three players in the squad, maybe four, that are left from 2013 so it’s been a crazy couple of years.”