NOT everyone in the Queensland camp is thrilled to see Daly Cherry-Evans back in the Maroons No.7 jersey it seems.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters has revealed Ben Hunt needed cheering up after being replaced as halfback by Cherry-Evans and demoted to the bench for Wednesday’s State of Origin III.
But Walters has backed Hunt to make an impact as an interchange utility as Queensland attempt to avoid a first series whitewash by NSW since 2000 and send stand-in skipper Billy Slater out a winner.
Walters agreed Hunt had come into the game three camp “p***ed off” about losing the halfback spot.
“And rightly so. We wanted him to be disappointed,” Walters said on Tuesday.
“Ben wants to be part of this group and I know he can add some great stuff.
“He’s got great skills, he’s a tough little bugger and he’s very hard to handle defensively, and in defence he is very strong as well.
“Wherever we play him he will stand up for us.”
Walters promised St George Illawarra No.7 Hunt “plenty of match time”.
“Certainly he may play some dummy half, he may play some time in the middle as a roving type of player – we will see how the game develops,” he said.
“We know he’s a player that is comfortable at this level. He will show what he can do at this level.”
Cherry-Evans clearly has not required a Walters pep talk.
At 29, the Manly skipper has launched a Camp Maroon charm offensive as he tries to stake a long-term claim for the Queensland No.7 jersey.
There was speculation Cherry-Evans fell out with the Maroons during his last Origin stint but the Sea Eagles leader has been warmly welcomed back after his three years in the Origin wilderness.
He played the last of his six Origins in game two 2015.
Certainly Walters had been won over by Cherry-Evans.
“He’s been awesome. He’s a great fella, a great Queenslander,” Walters said.
“I am sure he is going to put in a great performance tomorrow night in front of a home crowd.”
Cherry-Evans was once booed at Queensland’s spiritual home Suncorp Stadium when he ran out for Manly after his famous 2015 backflip on an agreement to join Gold Coast.
But Walters expected Cherry-Evans to be the toast of the Maroons faithful on the same ground on Wednesday night.
“We just want DCE to be DCE. He’s a great ball runner, a great organiser, he’s a tough defender as well,” Walters said.
“His last opportunity at this level in 2015 he brought an injured shoulder into the game. He is a lot more mature now. I am excited for him.”