DCE on cusp of joining greatest Maroons captains

Joel Gould |

Daly Cherry-Evans will join elite company if Queensland win one more game in the 2024 Origin series.
Daly Cherry-Evans will join elite company if Queensland win one more game in the 2024 Origin series.

A pair of Queensland greats have hailed the leadership of Daly Cherry-Evans as he stands on the cusp of joining an elite trio to have captained the side to three straight State of Origin series triumphs.

The 35-year-old will lead the Maroons at the MCG on June 26, where a win would give Queensland a treble of series titles on the trot under his captaincy. 

With the Maroons up 1-0, even a loss in Melbourne would give the Manly captain a shot of achieving the feat in game three at Suncorp Stadium.

Only rugby league Immortal Wally Lewis (1982-1984 and 1987-1989), Darren Lockyer (2009-2011) and Cameron Smith (2015-2017) have achieved the treble in three-match series for the Maroons. 

Lewis also captained the Maroons to a win in the one-off Origin match in 1981. Lockyer, who was also at the helm in successful campaigns in 2006 and 2007, missed the 2008 series with injury, otherwise he would have led the state to six series wins in a row.

Cherry-Evans, also Queensland’s halfback, assumed the captaincy in 2019 and won his first series as skipper in 2020 before losing in 2021. The Maroons have prevailed in the past two series. 

Daly Cherry-Evans.
Cherry-Evans’ leadership has been ‘exceptional’, says Maroons legend Gene Miles. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

“The way Daly has handled the captaincy over the years has been exceptional,” Maroons legend Gene Miles told AAP.

“Daly is always talking to his players and then backs that up with actions and great leadership.”

Cherry-Evans was out of the Maroons side for three years. He bided his time and has prevailed through adversity. The 2020 series win came after the Maroons were tagged the worst team in Origin history.

“That 2020 series set him up really well, in what were difficult times during COVID, and he hasn’t looked back,” Maroons selector Miles said. 

“Daly was our No.14 for a couple of years, coming off the bench and playing in the middle of the ruck like Cooper Cronk did in what is such an important role for us. 

“Cooper moved to half for Queensland and then when he retired it was a natural progression for Daly after doing such a mighty job as captain and No.7 for Manly.”

Cherry-Evans was man of the match in the 38-10 win in game one of this year’s series.

Maroons team manager Nate Myles, who played 32 Origin games in the forwards, said it was unheard of that Cherry-Evans was on the rise in the toughest arena at his age.

“If you can name three people that have done that I will be dumbfounded,” Myles said.

“Every year that he plays Origin he seems to get better. I was 32 in my last game. 

“The intensity of what he has been able to maintain is a testament to his professionalism and the style of person he is.

“Daly has manipulated himself into one of the best No.7s we have ever had for Queensland.”

AAP