Daly Cherry-Evans’ decision to stick with Manly won’t be welcomed by Maroons fans, Queensland Rugby League boss Peter Betros admits.
But Betros hopes he never sees the day Queensland supporters boo their own.
All eyes will be on Cherry-Evans against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night – his first NRL game since his decision to abandon his four-year deal with the Gold Coast Titans – a move that has caused an uproar north of the Tweed.
Queensland great Gorden Tallis even suggested it may impact on Cherry-Evans’ future Maroons captaincy claims.
The reaction has been so overwhelming that Broncos coach Wayne Bennett was forced to defend Cherry-Evans on Thursday, asking fans to “move on”.
Betros admitted Queenslanders would be irate with the Maroons Origin halfback.
“I don’t doubt Queensland people will probably frown upon him for a while but I don’t think it is a death sentence,” Betros told AAP.
“He will cop some criticism but I think it will die down eventually.”
Betros joked that Queenslanders “booed Manly anyway” but he found it hard to believe Maroons fans would jeer Cherry-Evans on Friday night.
“I don’t think Queensland supporters would ever boo a Maroon,” he said.
“I find that hard to believe. I hope it doesn’t happen.
“The guy has made a choice about his career. We have to respect it even if we don’t agree with it.”
The stage was set for a heated Suncorp Stadium “welcome” after Cherry-Evans was cleared of a shoulder complaint that kept him out of State of Origin I.
“I can’t judge how people will react. He has made his decision, he is moving on – I reckon the rest of us should too,” Bennett said of Cherry-Evans.
“I am pleased he is out there playing tomorrow night for the game’s sake because we need those quality players out there.”
Betros did not want to speculate on Tallis’ claim that Cherry-Evans’ decision would harm his Queensland captaincy chances.
“It’s hypothetical,” he said.
“Cameron (Smith) will be captain for another two or three years – who knows what is going to happen after that?
“It’s a personal decision he has made.
“It’s easy to criticise him but I don’t think it achieves anything.”
Bennett expected a clear-headed Cherry-Evans to be at his best on Friday night after finally ending his contract saga.
Manly may be dead last and Brisbane equal first but Bennett has rated their clash a “danger game” due to the Cherry-Evans factor.
Bennett even tipped Cherry-Evans to slot back onto the Maroons bench for June 17’s Origin II in Melbourne, leapfrogging incumbent Michael Morgan and Brisbane’s Ben Hunt.
“The selectors are loyal like that and I believe in it. The other boys will get their chance,” Bennett said.