CHERRY ON TOP: Daly Cherry-Evans appears to be back in contention for Origin selection after Queensland coach Kevin Walters talked up the Manly skipper's recent performances.
CHERRY ON TOP: Daly Cherry-Evans appears to be back in contention for Origin selection after Queensland coach Kevin Walters talked up the Manly skipper's recent performances. Matt King

Cherry suddenly on top for Origin selection

THE 2017 State of Origin series decider is beginning to look like the ultimate showdown between criticism lightning rods Mitchell Pearce and Daly Cherry-Evans.

The Manly playmaker was thought to have been completely shafted by Kevin Walters last week when the Maroons coach named four potential replacements for injured superstar Johnathan Thurston and overlooked the premiership-winning halfback.

Walters on Monday changed his tune on the Sea Eagles general, including him as one of the options Queensland is considering to be called up for Game 3 against NSW at Suncorp Stadium on July 12.

Doubling as a State of Origin farewell for Cooper Cronk and injured Thurston, the series decider has been described by NRL guru Phil Gould as potentially the biggest game in State of Origin.

Walters on Monday said he would have confidence in throwing Cherry-Evans back into the Queensland team for the occasion, despite Cherry-Evans having not been selected to play for the Maroons since 2015.

"He's been playing some good footy," Walters told Sky Sports Radio's Big Sports Breakfast.

"His match yesterday just put some icing on the cake, I suppose for him. He's been in really good touch.

"We have got some decisions to make around that position and he's obviously a candidate that's really putting his hand up. Michael Morgan would be another one. Cameron Munster from the Storm will obviously come into calculations somewhere. Ben Hunt is another one. He had a terrific game, or second half, for the Broncos down in Canberra the other night.

"We've got some good options there. Hopefully, they can all get through next weekend. We've already lost little Johnny Thurston and Darius Boyd as well."

Walters said he will consult with senior Maroons players Cameron Smith, Cronk and Thurston before sitting down with Queensland selectors Darren Lockyer and Gene Miles at the end of this week.


Cameron Munster of the Storm is tackled by Daly Cherry-Evans, (left), and Dylan Walker of the Sea Eagles during the Round 7 NRL match between the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and the Melbourne Storm at Lottoland in Sydney, Saturday, April 15, 2017. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Melbourne's Cameron Munster is in the frame for Origin selection. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Walters admits Cherry-Evans' impressive performance in his team's win over Cronulla will be difficult to ignore.

Cherry-Evans on Sunday said he is playing better now than when he last played for Queensland, and it showed as he steered Manly into the NRL top four on Sunday with a 35-18 flogging of Cronulla.

Seemingly forgotten in the discussion to replace Johnathan Thurston for next month's State of Origin decider, Cherry-Evans sent a reminder to selectors with three try assists and a field goal against the defending premiers.

"With time comes experience, so I'd like to think I'm a better player," Cherry- Evans said.

"Only time will tell if I'm ready for Origin again.

"I understand the opportunity that has arisen in that side. The only thing I can do is just show through the Manly side that I'll put my hand up."

Manly coach Trent Barrett suggested the playmaker should form a bigger part in the Queensland No. 6 selection discussion, with Michael Morgan and Cameron Munster the front runners.

"I wouldn't swap him for anyone," Barrett said.

"He's our side. He's our leader. He came up with a couple of plays tonight... and he's doing it every week.

"The opportunities will come for him and he won't disappoint."