JAKE Trbojevic has hit out at suggestions that Daly Cherry-Evans’ personality makes him difficult to be around, declaring “you wouldn’t pick a weirdo as captain”.
Cherry-Evans is in career best form for a Manly side that has defied expectations to jump into the top four as we approach the business end of the season.
On the back of consecutive man of the match performances, the star halfback was a strong favourite to replace the injured Johnathan Thurston in the Queensland team for next Wednesday’s Origin decider, forcing Maroons coach Kevin Walters into an awkward public defence of Cherry-Evans when he was left out on Monday.
After what he described as a “tough” selectors’ call to promote Michael Morgan into the starting side and give Storm young gun Cameron Munster his debut, Walters explained that Ben Hunt was a “better fit” for the bench utility role because of his versatility.
Although he used strong language to get across the point that Cherry-Evans had not had his cards marked by Queensland and his Origin career was “very much alive”, Hunt’s call up just a matter of weeks after being dropped to reserve grade by Broncos coach Wayne Bennett made those lines hard to buy.
Simply put, if he was not serving a sort of exile from the Maroons’ set-up due to personality clashes it’s hard to understand how a player in his form could be overlooked.
It was a point superbly illustrated by Paul Kent’s column for The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday but if there’s any truth to it, Cherry-Evans’ club teammate Trbojevic can’t understand where it’s coming from.
“That’s ridiculous. He’s definitely not (different),” a perplexed Trbojevic told foxsports.com.au.
“He’s a great fella, I get on with him really well and me and my brother (Tom) hang out with him a fair bit.
“It’s disappointing to hear people say that sort of stuff, especially when they don’t really know him. It’s just sort of perception, I suppose, the way they see him.
“But he’s our captain (of Manly), you know, you wouldn’t pick a weirdo as captain, you know what I mean? He’s been doing a great job, he’s been playing really well and the boys love playing alongside him.”
Trbojevic said Cherry-Evans had been buoyed by the prospect of returning to the Origin fold after hearing people like Queensland selector Darren Lockyer go public with the view that the Clive Churchill Medallist was a man of the match performance away from a Maroons jersey prior to Manly’s clash with the Warriors on Saturday.
Cherry-Evans did his part, leading a sensational comeback, but still the call-up didn’t come.
“I think he’s in some great form and he really would have earnt his shot there, so probably, I definitely think he’s been playing well enough to be there,” Trbojevic said.
“That’s the way it goes at times but I’m sure he’ll be back there in the future if he keeps going the way he is.
“ … He’s been great, you know. He’s sort of come on in leaps and bounds since he got the captaincy as his form suggests.
“He’s been playing some great footy so as a mate I was disappointed not to see him in the team.
“I reckon he deserved it but obviously Queensland picked such a great side anyway, that’s not dissing anyone who’s in there, but I’m just saying he’s been playing well enough to be there but he was unlucky, I was disappointed for him.”
Trbojevic’s comments came on the same day as Cherry-Evans faced the media for the first time since his selection snub.
Visibly disappointed, the Manly star said he didn’t agree with the decision to leave him out but said it wouldn’t deter him from his quest to add to his six Origin appearances so far.
“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.”