NRL: Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans says the pieces are falling into place for his team to win the premiership
Daly Cherry-Evans likes to call himself and halves partner Kieran Foran “the grandpa and pop” of the Manly team.
The Sea Eagles skipper has the same confidence about Manly‘s premiership prospects in 2021 as he did when he walked off the field with Foran after the “Battle of Brookvale” a decade ago.
“We think we can win it. We have finished the year really strongly and in a position that we believe is going to set us up to go all the way,” Cherry-Evans said.
After finishing the season with a flourish, the Sea Eagles claimed fourth spot to set up a qualifying final showdown on Friday night with the Storm, their arch enemies who they beat 18-4 back in 2011 after a wild night at Brookvale Oval.
Then in his rookie year, Cherry-Evans knew after that showdown that Manly would lift the premiership trophy on grand final day in 2011, the last premiership the club has won.
“My recollections of that night were that we were going to go on and win the comp because we beat Melbourne who were playing some great footy,” he said.
“It was a real big moment for me going ‘wow, we just beat Melbourne and we will charge onto these finals and win it’.
“We are full of belief at the moment. We had a wet sail at the back end of the year.
“We are really confident in what we have been able to do and the style of footy we are playing. A win in the first week of finals and securing a spot in a preliminary final is only going to elevate our confidence and belief even more.”
Cherry-Evans concedes minor premiers the Storm pose a “big hurdle”, but with Tom Trbojevic on fire at fullback and unsung hooker Lachlan Croker firing at hooker, the Manly captain has full faith in his spine.
It is a far cry from the outfit that had not won a game after four rounds. Trbojevic (30), Cherry Evans (29) and Foran (12) have 71 try assists for the year. Throw in Trbojevic‘s 25 tries and it is a lethal combination.
“We practised a lot in pre-season and walked away feeling really confident in the style of footy we could play this year. Unfortunately, Tom didn’t get to play the opening weeks … but once Tom came back we found our identity,” Cherry-Evans said.
“There are so many moving pieces but we have been able to play a lot of footy with our nine, seven, six and one.
“Me and Foz love our footy, we are like the grandpa and pop of the team, drinking cups of tea and walking around talking footy, and the young fellas are laughing at us saying ‘you are off your head’.
“It’s part of the balance, right? Our hooker and fullback are 24 years old and at different stages of their career, so it is a really nice balance we have.”
Ten years on from his only premiership success, Cherry-Evans wants to win another.
“I have definitely got the hunger to win another one.,” he said.
“Who would have thought that in your first year of first grade you would get to win a comp? I will never take that for granted, but to be able to win one in a different role after all the journey you take through an NRL career would be a whole different level of satisfaction. It would be such a cool part of a crazy journey.”
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