Controversial Manly playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans has a chance at redemption in Queensland fans’ eyes after being named to replace injured Maroons halfback Cooper Cronk for next week’s State of Origin II clash in Melbourne.
Cherry-Evans has been handed the Maroons No.7 jersey after Cronk (knee) was surprisingly ruled out of June 17’s Origin II clash with NSW at the MCG.
Cherry-Evans caused an uproar north of the Tweed River last week when he reneged on a four-year Gold Coast deal to stay at Manly.
A low point came when the Maroons playmaker was booed at Queensland’s spiritual home Suncorp Stadium at Manly’s NRL loss to Brisbane on Friday night.
However, loyal Maroons coach Mal Meninga has kept the faith with Cherry-Evans following Cronk’s injury.
Initially cleared of serious injury, Cronk is expected to miss up to a month after scans on Monday revealed a low grade meniscus tear in his right knee.
Cherry-Evans (shoulder) missed Origin I but his elevation to halfback ensured loyal Queensland selectors retained Cowboys strike weapon Michael Morgan as their bench utility.
Cherry-Evans will also be out to make up for the disappointment of the last time he replaced Cronk (broken arm) for game two last year.
He only enjoyed one full training session at halfback with Queensland due to a knee complaint before NSW secured their first Origin series in nine years with the game two victory in Sydney.
Instead of preparing on the Gold Coast, the Maroons’ game two Queensland camp will be held in Melbourne. Queensland Origin II team: Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Will Chambers, Johnathan Thurston, Daly Cherry-Evans, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (capt), Nate Myles, Aidan Guerra, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker. Interchange: Michael Morgan, Josh McGuire, Matt Gillett, Jacob Lillyman. Extended bench: Josh Papalii, Dane Gagai, Korbin Sims.