After falling victim to Queensland coach Mal Meninga’s axe last week, Daly Cherry-Evans must now confront a stadium full of Gold Coast Titans fans screaming for his head.
The Manly halfback rebounded from the disappointment of being snubbed for the State of Origin decider by playing a leading hand in the Sea Eagles’ 28-16 NRL win over Cronulla on Sunday.
But after dealing with the biggest disappointment of his career, he faces another test of his mental strength as he prepares to take on the Titans for the first time since reneging on a contract to join them next NRL season.
The playmaker was put under heavy scrutiny last week following his Origin omission and must confront another seven days of unwanted headlines.
Manly have already moved to shield him from the spotlight – he declined interviews at Brookvale Oval on Sunday and the Sea Eagles say he will not be available to front the media in the lead up to their clash with the Titans on the Gold Coast on Monday.
In June Cherry-Evans caused a sensation when he utilised the `Round 13′ rule to back out of a four-year deal to join the Titans and sign a “lifetime” contract with Manly.
It left the Titans in the lurch, sending their recruitment plans into a spiral and they remain without a senior playmaker for 2016.
The 26-year-old copped flak from the Suncorp Stadium crowd when he faced Brisbane just two days after turning his back on the Titans and his reception is sure to be more hostile on the Gold Coast.
There is also the question of whether he will be targeted by the Titans players.
Cherry-Evans’ Manly teammate Jorge Taufua urged Queensland-based Sea Eagles fans to get to the Gold Coast to help drown out any jeers directed at the No.7.
“We played Brisbane a few weeks ago and they loved him there,” Taufua said jokingly.
“We get a pretty good reception at the Gold Coast, we’ve got a few fans there.
“Hopefully they can out-cheer the boos if there are any.
“Cherry will do his job as he does each week.”
Taufua said he had not noticed a difference in Cherry-Evans following his Origin axing, and expects him to build on his star showing against Cronulla.
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders and played outstanding (against the Sharks),” Taufua said.”
Manly coach Geoff Toovey said Cherry-Evans didn’t let pressure get to him and praised him for the way he had not kicked stones after being dropped for Origin III.
“I can only talk about his attitude at training and it’s been superb,” Toovey said.
“I think personally he would have been disappointed (at being dropped) but he hasn’t let on to anyone. He got on with his job, he hasn’t had any negative thoughts or any negative feelings at training.
“It’s been a blessing for Manly and the Manly fans, I think they like it.”