The last time Daly Cherry-Evans played at Suncorp Stadium he was booed.
Barely 12 months later, the Manly playmaker believes the time is right to run out at the same venue and win over the Queensland rugby league critics that count – Maroons selectors.
Plagued by knee and ankle problems, Cherry-Evans said ahead of Saturday night’s NRL clash with Brisbane that he finally felt ready to launch a last gasp State of Origin selection campaign.
“If I can play at a standard that deserves a (Queensland) jersey then I can’t wait for that opportunity,” Cherry-Evans said.
“Only time will tell.”
State of Origin loyalties were nowhere to be seen the last time Cherry-Evans was spotted at Suncorp Stadium in June.
In the wake of his now infamous Gold Coast Titans backflip, the Manly halfback was heckled throughout the corresponding match against the Broncos.
Twelve days later he was starting halfback for Queensland in Origin II in Melbourne.
It was the last time he was seen in a Maroons jersey.
For Origin III he was not only dropped from the starting side after Cooper Cronk’s injury return but denied the bench utility role due to an in-form Michael Morgan.
His Origin prospects had not looked like improving any time soon in the new season.
He missed three games with an ankle complaint.
The once dominant halfback has only managed three try assists in six games this season with former halves partner Kieran Foran now at the Eels.
But Cherry-Evans said he was finally loving life off the field, away from the limelight after enduring last year’s tribulations.
And he felt it was only a matter of time before that was reflected on it.
“I really have enjoyed staying out of the spotlight,” he said.
“Those who know me understand that is not the sort of life I like to live.
“The test for me is to develop as a rugby league player, to worry about the actual football.”
Asked how he coped with last year’s dramas, Cherry-Evans said: “I don’t want to bring it all up, it’s bringing up old rubbish.
“I think everyone is over it.”
Manly have confirmed fullback Brett Stewart and enforcer Steve Matai have been ruled out of the Broncos clash due to injury while Tom Trbojevic faces a fitness test on his ankle.
Not that it has dampened Cherry-Evans’ confidence.
“Realistically there is no pressure on us,” Cherry-Evans said of ninth-placed Manly (4-5 record).
“Brisbane are the benchmark but we have come down here confident.
“I can’t wait to kick start our season.”