Meninga: Maroons need to pick Daly Cherry-Evans despite injury

Queensland selectors need to name Daly Cherry-Evans for Origin I even though we've been told it's a four-to-six-week injury.

He doesn't need to make it back on the field for the Manly Sea Eagles beforehand. He's earned that respect to be named despite being under an injury cloud.

I'm sure Kevvie Walters will want to give DCE every chance to prove his fitness. Players these days are meticulous in their recovery and make full use of modern sports medicine, which means they usually get back sooner than anticipated.

After what DCE did last year for Queensland in Origin III and then making the Australian side in October, coupled with what he's done for Manly so far this year - four wins from the past five games – he's obviously matured even more from a captaincy point of view.

And, by naming him after round 11 and then he spends a week in the Maroons camp, that's five weeks rest there. So he should be given every opportunity to play.  

Picking the captain will be Kevvie's toughest choice, I think, not how he re-arranges the team if DCE cannot pass his final fitness test.

The possible captains are DCE, Michael Morgan and Cameron Munster. They are all proven leaders, all played in grand finals and all played for Australia.

But my choice would be Morgan. I know Ben Hunt might not be thrilled to play hooker, seeing as his club and his preferred position is No.7, but I see him as Queensland's best No.9 right now.

By naming him after round 11 and then he spends a week in the Maroons camp, that's five weeks rest

Mal Meninga on Daly Cherry-Evans

I would play Kalyn Ponga at fullback, Morgan at left centre, and DCE and Munster – the incumbent Test halves – at No.7 and No.6.

If DCE isn't right in time, then Morgan plays on the right and Munster plays on the left, which they do for their respective clubs Cowboys and Storm. That now leaves your bench utility.

The spine is so very important at this elite level and the No.14 has been a very crucial part of the way Queensland picks its side. You think of players like Cooper Cronk, Michael Morgan and last year Kalyn Ponga, who made their debuts as the bench utility.

In my eyes, Morgan and Hunt are the most versatile of all the Maroons that could be named this year. But with Jake Friend out injured, Hunt is the best option at dummy-half.

I'd be looking at someone like Anthony Milford for my No.14 this series. He can play centres, fullback or wing, along with his established five-eighth skills. The No.14 doesn't always have to play in the forwards.

If Hunt, for example, was hurt at No.9 then you could push Morgan into hooker and Milford into the halves. He's starting to play with some real confidence so he’s one player to throw into the mix for selectors.

I know Anthony hasn't had the easiest start to the club competition but you know what he brings and he's under pressure all the time by external forces. But I'm thinking internally the Broncos are pretty happy with his progress.

The forwards gave him room last week and all of a sudden he was on the front foot playing really well. So from an Origin point of view, he comes off the bench. When there's a bit of fatigue in the game he hangs around the middle and makes himself a dangerous proposition.

For goalkicking – again if DCE isn't there – you'd hand the tee to Ponga. And there you've got great positional kickers in Morgan and Munster, covering both sides of the field.

Again, for me, DCE is the best goal-kicker for Queensland at present. It’s another reason for Queensland to give the Manly skipper as much time as possible to get on the field.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.