The Maroons will see Daly Cherry-Evans pull on the iconic jersey for the 20th time in history as they head to Adelaide on Wednesday night. Ten years ago, Cherry-Evans made his Maroons debut coming off the bench for the greatest side in Origin history. However, the road to game 20 has not been easy for the Sea Eagle.
Cherry-Evans had to wait two years before making his comeback due to the dominance of Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk. Thurston himself played his first 20 Origin games on the trot between 2005 and 2011. He won 13 of those games, making him an expert in the matter.
Since his debut in Game Two of the 2013 series, Cherry-Evans has donned the Queensland jersey for 19 of a possible 29 Origin games. This includes the last 12 games on the trot, all as the skipper of his state. Thurston commended him for his resilience, stating that “he’s had to get back into the side too, he missed a couple of years there, but he fought his way back and he has been a mainstay, and now he’s captaining the Maroons”.
Cherry-Evans has come a long way from his early days in Mackay, and this achievement is not lost on the NRL community. Thurston considers playing 20 games and receiving the Dick “Tosser” Turner Medal to be a massive achievement. He said that Cherry-Evans deserves the recognition, and his family should be proud as well.
But Thurston’s praise for Cherry-Evans didn’t stop there. He acknowledged that Cherry-Evans has become a great leader. He has been outstanding since his return to the side and has a significant influence on his playing group. Thurston noted that “when he talks, they all listen”.
Cameron Munster, halves partner to Cherry-Evans and pivotal figure in the 2020 and 2022 successes, also had kind words to say about Cherry-Evans. Munster thinks very highly of him, praising him for all the good work that he has done for Queensland. Munster loves that Cherry-Evans has proven those who wrote him off and suggested he shouldn’t be in the team wrong.
With his place in Maroons history already in place, Cherry-Evans will look to showcase a commanding performance for his milestone game in the pivotal opening game. This will be the second time Origin is played at the iconic Adelaide Oval, with the 2020 series opener seeing an unheralded Maroons side with eight debutants take the win. Cherry-Evans was the skipper that night; he hopes to once again set the tone for his team as he adds another chapter to his Origin story.