DCE’s ‘impostor syndrome’ on eve of Manly milestone

Jasper Bruce |

Daly Cherry-Evans equalled Cliff Lyons’ record for Manly games when he lined up against the Dragons.
Daly Cherry-Evans equalled Cliff Lyons’ record for Manly games when he lined up against the Dragons.

As he prepares to overtake Manly legend Cliff Lyons as the Sea Eagles’ most-capped player, Daly Cherry-Evans says he still feels like a bit of an impostor.

After equalling the storied five-eighth’s record in the Sea Eagles’ loss last week to St George Illawarra, Cherry-Evans will enter rarefied air when he makes his 310th club appearance, against Penrith on Saturday evening.

“I certainly didn’t set out to beat a record like this,” Cherry-Evans said.

“You just want to keep playing because you love it.

“All careers have their ups and downs. I’ve learned a lot, loved every bit of it. It’s a really proud moment for me and the family.”

Chief among his career highlights so far, Cherry-Evans steered Manly to their most recent premiership during his rookie 2011 season, a feat no first-year halfback has replicated since.

This year, he surpassed Jamie Lyon as Manly’s most-capped skipper, having captained the side 163 times. 

He has also kicked the most field goals of any player in the NRL era (27). 

In 2021, Cherry-Evans led Manly to their biggest win since the club’s foundation in 1946 – a 66-0 trouncing of Canterbury.

But despite his accomplishments, Cherry-Evans said passing two-time grand final winner Lyons sat a little uncomfortably.

“It’s a very surreal feeling,” Cherry-Evans said.

“There’s a part of me that does feel a bit of impostor syndrome passing someone like Cliffy Lyons, because of what he’s done in the game.

“That’s the part I don’t let myself think about too much. You’ve just got to try and make sure you focus on what you can control, and that’s me maximising my career.

“It’s a dangerous game when you start comparing yourself to legends of the game. You can sometimes forget how far you’ve come as a person.

“(Lyons) has been really supportive of me throughout my career.”

Cherry-Evans is still 40 games behind Steve ‘Beaver’ Menzies’ record for most games as an ‘Eagle’. 

Menzies played 69 games for the Northern Eagles – the joint venture that replaced Manly and North Sydney between 2000 and 2002 – in between two stints at the Sea Eagles, for a total of 349 games.

Cherry-Evans said passing the Manly cult hero was not on his to-do list.

“I’d love to win a premiership more than I’d like to beat Beaver’s record,” he said.

At the peak of his powers at 35, Cherry-Evans would not put an expiry date on his career. His current contract expires at the end of 2025.

“I feel like it’s got a few more years in it,” he said of his career.

“I’ll definitely be guided by my performance, how my body feels and where the club sees me.”