Australia celebrates winning the Rugby League World Cup Final. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Australia celebrates winning the Rugby League World Cup Final. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Maloney surgery opens door for new era

DALY Cherry-Evans has firmed to become the Kangaroos' next halfback after James Maloney was ruled out of next month's Tests in New Zealand due to a neck injury.

Maloney visited a surgeon on Tuesday and will require some form of surgery in the next month, meaning he will miss Australia's Tests against the Kiwis and Tonga.

"I'll need something done, I'll definitely need surgery," Maloney said.

"If I didn't do anything it would go straight away next year. I can't keep nursing it for a whole season so we'll have to get something done."

That development comes on the same day Cherry-Evans was named as captain in Mal Meninga's Prime Minister's XIII to take on Papua New Guinea next weekend, while Dragons playmaker Ben Hunt was picked at hooker.

With long-time Australian halves Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston bowing out of representative football, spots are up for grabs for the October 13 and 20 internationals.

Cherry-Evans was so committed to breaking into the Australian side that instead of booking holidays following a tough NRL season with Manly he has trained by himself to stay in shape.

"With such amazing footballers retiring from rep football the opportunity is massive and I've been lucky enough to get first opportunity with the Prime Minister's side," Cherry-Evans told AAP.

The Manly skipper is one of a number of potential Australian players in the 20-man squad to battle the Kumuls in Port Moresby along with Jake Trbojevic, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Tyson Frizell, Aaron Woods and David Klemmer.

After Manly's failure to make the top eight, Cherry-Evans gave himself a few weeks off to rest some niggling injuries before returning to training in case he received a call-up from Meninga.

His game-winning performance for Queensland in State of Origin III only fuelled his representative dream and he heads to PNG driven to add to his 11 Kangaroos appearances after he last played for Australia in 2014.

"I was focused on being available and keeping my body in check for an opportunity. I didn't get a heads up on it, I wanted to make sure if the call came I was ready," Cherry-Evans said.