Daly Cherry-Evans was in State of Origin limbo not too long ago, but he might’ve just cemented his legacy as a Queensland great after winning his second series as captain.
After ending his three-year Maroons exile in Game Three of the 2018 season, the star halfback was incredibly handed the captaincy ahead of the next series.
Cherry-Evans etched his name into the history books a few years later by winning his first series as captain.
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Famously, and with a big smile on his face, the playmaker thanked the crowd on behalf of the “worst ever Queensland team” before raising the shield.
While that’s certainly a defining moment in his illustrious playing career, Cherry-Evans’ cemented his legacy in this year’s series decider.
Queensland had their backs up against the wall going into Game Three, having lost the second match by 32-points and with star five-eighth Cameron Munster having been ruled out.
But as former Maroons captain Cameron Smith described, Cherry-Evans embraced the responsibility that he had to perform that night.
“But I haven’t seen such a dominant or maybe a mature performance as what he put in Game Three,” Smith said on SEN’s The Captain’s Run on Thursday.
“He didn’t try to overplay things as well, he just did what he was good at and he brought his strengths to that footy side. He organised the footy team, his passing and his combinations with his edge players was fantastic, his kicking game really just put a nail in New South Wales’ coffin.
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“That’s what was needed. He didn’t have to be the best player on the field, he didn’t have to come up with any outstanding or just out of this world plays, he just needed to bring to the team what he’s extremely good at.
“With a performance like that, particularly in the situation with Munster being out, a lot of the talk saying ‘their best players gone, they’re no chance’.
“He came out with a performance like that, I think it just cements his legacy as a Queensland player in that Maroon jersey,”
The Maroons were blessed with depth and options in the halves during the start of Cherry-Evans’ career, with Darren Lockyer and Johnathan Thurston having proven themselves as legends.
Cooper Cronk also starred off the bench in the utility role, before moving into the starring side later in his career.
But when Cherry-Evans returned to the Queensland team in 2018, he replaced Ben Hunt, who is currently one of the best players in the NRL.
The manly captain played a lot of his Origin football off the bench when he first burst onto the scene, which Smith said showed how good of a player he was.
“You’ve got to think back to when he first started, he wasn’t playing halfback, he wasn’t playing in the halves, he was used as a utility. He actually didn’t know when he was going to get on the field, he didn’t know what position he’d be in,” he added.
“It was all about him being able to read a different situation and fill in that spot. That was a little bit unfair to him but he was good enough at the time to go in and fill that role.
“As he’s come in now and taken over as a leader of this footy side, there’s no doubt that Game Three was his best.”