In the 57th minute of State of Origin Game 3 the man who many know as DCE put the ball over the white stripe for what turned out to be the match-winning try. He had done it, he had redeemed himself and however temporary it was, he had put a muzzle on all of his haters and critics. He helped his Maroons side win the game and avoid a series whitewash for the first time since 2000. He had been selected in the starting 13 instead of a "pissed off" and furious Ben Hunt. And Cherry channeled his fellow teammate's emotions to play an absolute belter of a game. He made 21 tackles, gained 78 meters and had the one match-sealing try. This is the story of how one of the most villainous players in the League, no matter how hard he gets hit, always bounces straight back up.
The Gold Coast Titans saga
In 2015 Cherry-Evans signed what was a massive multi-year contract with the Titans. He then back-flipped on it before Round 13 by reneging on it and signing a huge 1.3mil per year for eight seasons deal with Manly. This was the biggest contract signed in NRL history and it had massive implications for both clubs. For the Gold Coast, they missed out on a marquee name and somebody who could have bought them out of their finals wilderness. While for the Sea Eagles it was a huge coup, especially given the fact that they were resigned to losing either him or then halves partner Kieran Foran due to money issues. This is when Daly developed his now well-known villain tag. This is something that he hasn't really been able to shed since and he was massively booed at Manly's later season games at both the Gold Coast and Brisbane. And that campaign, try what their mercurial halfback might would see Manly finish only a win outside the top eight.
Coming into a tight-knit Queensland unit
Before this most recent State of Origin series, Daly was last selected for the Maroons in 2014. Rumours persisted that DCE was not well-liked within the Queensland camp.
"Being selected for this match was a big relief for him. He never thought he’d get back in there," said Trent Barrett
While head QLD coach Kevin Walters throughout his tenure has constantly had to put all the 'reports' to bed that his men don't like playing alongside the much-maligned Manly captain. While adding spice to these rumours were the fact that former players such as Anthony Watmough have come out and publicly slated the former Clive Churchill Medallist, such as earlier in the year when reports had him calling DCE a "dickhead".
While a lot of past Manly players whether publicly or privately (including supposedly Brett Stewart), are thought to have not liked the fact that Daly was offered a massive contract. Combined with him barely getting a look into the Maroons side, the first two games of this past series included, the questions were asked, what did or does Daly do to put everyone in the QLD side offside with him? However, as we saw, whether his teammates like playing with him, he put a bit of respectability back into the series.
This current train-wreck season for Manly, the one he's been front and centre of
DCE had a fight earlier this season with fellow halves competition Jackson Hastings, a player who has since left the club. A fight that supposedly happened in and around the time DCE and others were at a strip club after a loss to the struggling Titans. Daly has also had his contract questioned by the League and has had to endure a season filled with never-ending questions about his sides salary-cap issues.
The constant media speculation, the questions, the rumours, everything was so bad at one point that he volunteered to have his phone checked, just so his name could stop being dragged through the mud. While round in, round out, he and Trent Barrett have had to front the media about allegations and issues outside of the game that has just been played, all because their board is too scared to.
Undoubtedly he's had his issues this past season and that accurately reflects Manly's lowly 13th placed position on the table. However, you can never question his commitment to his side or the game of Rugby League. He has scored four tries this year along with assisting on seven others. Combined with that he has completed 311 of a possible 352 tackles for an 88% success rate. While his average kicking distance is 25m to go along with an impressive 71 running metres per game. He's doing his very best in a very, very bad situation.
No matter what's happened to him, he's always bounced back and shown why he's a player that can't be written off. No, he's not worth over a million dollars per season, but when he's at his very best he's a world-beater and no one can question that. There is a reason after all why Manly offered him so much money, why he's won a Grand Final and been a Clive Churchill Medallist and why he's played for his country 11 times and his state 7. Even when he's winning, it's still not enough, but it doesn't matter to him, because he's always burning his critics anyway.
Are you a fan of Daly Cherry-Evans or do you fall into the large category of people who aren't? Let us know in the comments below.