How fans gave DCE Maroons captaincy
AMONG the countless opinions that rained down upon the Queensland State of Origin selectors before they chose their first side, the most significant of all was handed down by … you.
How would the public react?
When The Courier-Mail fan survey revealed that 44 per cent of Queenslanders wanted Cherry-Evans to be the new captain, it gave the selectors comfort that they would deliver the skipper the state wanted.
And it mattered.
League legend Gorden Tallis said on Fox Sports program Queenslanders Only several weeks ago it concerned him Cherry-Evans could become the first Queensland skipper to be booed on to Suncorp Stadium.
He had every right to make the suggestion - in the third Origin clash last year Cherry-Evans returned for his first Suncorp game in three years and was jeered to the point where one southern scribe tweeted it was hard to tell who got the loudest boo - Cherry-Evans or NSW's James Maloney.
But Cherry-Evans played the house down, Queensland won, and there was a feeling that the state had forgiven him for his chastening 2015 decision to withdraw from a deal with the Gold Coast Titans and sign a long-term deal with Manly.
There was something about the brazenness of the Titans decision that cut Queenslanders deeply.
It went with reports that during his first stint as an Origin player Cherry-Evans did not really fit in with the old-timers who found him too individual for the team's best interests. He was seen as the Michael Clarke of rugby league - polite but divisive and different.
But there are precedents for a player growing into a respected leader.
When Don Bradman was an emerging cricket captain, many of the older players in the team struggled under his leadership because they felt he was too consumed with his own career to be the leader they needed. Yet in later years, as Bradman grew older and the team younger, he gained total control and respect.
Cherry-Evans is no Bradman, but he is 30 now and a more worldly character than he was when he first played for the Maroons in 2013.
Pure longevity wins respect.
When Cherry-Evans first played for Queensland, David Fifita was in Year 8. How could he not respect what Cherry-Evans has done?
That said, Cherry-Evans is not your typical blue-collar league man. Queensland coach Kevin Walters yesterday spotlighted the contrast between "deep-thinking'' Cherry-Evans and his "free-flowing, easygoing'' halves partner Cameron Munster.
The thoughtful family man and the rough-house, free-spirit who plays on instinct - talk about an odd couple.
But being different has never been a major problem for halves pairings.
In fact, the time to worry is often when they are too similar.