Daly Cherry-Evans is set to go from villain to hero when the Queensland team for next week’s State of Origin game two clash is named in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Controversial half Cherry-Evans is set to be handed the Maroons No.7 jersey after Cooper Cronk (knee) was surprisingly ruled out of Origin II on Monday.
Cherry-Evans caused an uproar north of the Tweed River last week when he reneged on a four-year Gold Coast deal to stay in Manly.
A low point came when the Maroons playmaker was booed at Queensland’s spiritual home Suncorp Stadium during Manly’s heavy NRL loss to Brisbane on Friday night.
Blues great and Sea Eagles assistant coach Andrew Johns even suggested Cherry-Evans’ backflip may jeopardise his place in the Queensland team.
However, loyal Maroons coach Mal Meninga is set to keep the faith with Cherry-Evans and ask him to step up in Cronk’s absence for June 17’s potential decider at the MCG.
After initially being 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 all but ensures loyal Queensland selectors will retain Cowboys strike weapon Michael Morgan as their bench utility.
It will mark the second time Cherry-Evans has tried to fill Cronk’s Queensland shoes.
Cherry-Evans replaced Cronk (broken arm) for game two last year.
However, he too was a last-minute starter for Origin II due to a troublesome knee injury and only enjoyed one full training session at halfback with Queensland.
Cherry-Evans never fired a shot as NSW secured their first Origin series in nine years with the game two victory in Sydney.
Queensland will name their team in Melbourne at 1600 on Tuesday.
Instead of preparing on the Gold Coast, the Maroons’ game two Queensland camp will be in Melbourne.
Likely 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.