DALY Cherry-Evans has claimed he would have had no problem wearing the No. 6 jersey for Queensland after being controversially overlooked for the State of Origin decider.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters has drafted in Brisbane halfback Ben Hunt and Melbourne utility Cameron Munster ahead of Cherry-Evans despite the Manly captain discovering some of the best form of his career in 2017.
Walters said Cherry-Evans was overlooked because he was a halfback and the team required a specialist No. 6 to replace the injured Johnathan Thurston — a bill which both Munster and Michael Morgan fit.
However Cherry-Evans said he would have had no problem playing outside of Maroons halfback Cooper Cronk.
“I expressed to Kevvie over the phone that while I didn’t agree with his decision I definitely understood how hard it would have been for him,” Cherry-Evans said.
“I feel as though I’m ready to get back into that arena, I’m going to try my hardest to get back in there next year.”
Munster and Morgan are in a two-way battle to wear the No. 6 jumper in Thurston’s stead while the other will fill the left centre position vacated by Darius Boyd’s injury.
Hunt will play off the bench in the utility position.
Cherry-Evans declined to answer questions about whether he had rubbed teammates the wrong way during his six appearances for his state between 2013-15.
Rumours of a rift between Cherry-Evans and the Maroons set-up emerged following Thurston’s thinly veiled comments when the Sea Eagles captain was dropped for the 2015 decider.
Thurston said Cronk’s strength was his ability to get the best out of his teammates whereas Cherry-Evans was known for his individual brilliance, fuelling rumours he didn’t fit in with the Queensland side.
Walters described those suggestions as “hogwash” and said Cherry-Evans was in line to replace Cooper Cronk should he step down from representative football next year.
“We had a conversation this morning and we cleared the air about a few issues,” Walters said.
“One of the things we were really strong on was all that garbage about him not fitting into the side, not getting on with some players, it’s a load of hogwash.
“I’d have no problem giving him an opportunity at Origin level and I dare say next year when the teams come around to be picked, is Cooper Cronk going to be there? We’re not sure. We know Johnathan Thurston isn’t going to be there.
“It’s fair to say DCE will give himself every chance next year if he continues on the path he is on at the moment.”