DCE: I won’t let Queensland down
DALY Cherry-Evans is primed for the game of his career in State of Origin I on Wednesday night with the new Maroons skipper delivering a stirring message to Queensland fans: "I will not let you down".
Cherry-Evans confronts the biggest test of his illustrious career with the Maroons halfback to make his Queensland captaincy debut in the series opener against NSW before 50,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
With his predecessor, the retired Greg Inglis, currently in rehab just 12 months after receiving Queensland's top job, the coronation of Cherry-Evans represents a new leadership era for the youthful Maroons.
Cherry-Evans is the Maroons' 15th Origin captain and the 30-year-old Sea Eagles skipper insists he will play for the Queensland people when he runs out on Wednesday night seeking revenge for last year's 2-1 series loss to the Blues.
"It means a lot to have the captaincy and I won't let the fans down," he told said in his final interview before Origin I.
"I am extremely humbled to lead this side and I will lead them in the right direction.
"It is a huge responsibility. I know people don't like to talk about individual accolades too much but this is an extremely proud moment.
"With the help of the senior players and the coaching staff, I feel like the pieces are in place for success and as captain it's important for me to uphold this great Queensland legacy.
"I can't wait to lead this Queensland team out in Origin I."
NRL Immortal Mal Meninga, the Maroons coach who gave Cherry-Evans his Origin debut in 2013 before dropping him two years later, is adamant the Queensland halfback will relish the pressure of leadership.
"Preparation is always key in Origin," he said. "Daly will be ready for his ultimate performance. I'm backing him to overcome any hurdles that come his way in Origin I."
The King of Origin, Maroons five-eighth icon Wally Lewis, added: "The greater the challenge, the greater Daly seems to perform.
"Every previous Queensland captain has risen to the occasion. Daly will rise as well."
The Mackay product plays his eighth Origin game on Wednesday night emboldened by his stunning recall last year, engineering an 18-12 victory in game three after a three-year exile from the Queensland team.
No other Queensland captain has risen from the ashes like Cherry-Evans - and that makes him hungry for success.
"I will never forget the sinking feeling in my gut of being dropped (from the Queensland side)," he said.
"That was a really hard moment but it's brought me here today.
"Those setbacks, those challenges you face in your career, they make you the person you are.
"I thought I might never make it back. The way the Maroons were playing, you don't change a winning team and I thought my goodness, how do I get back into the side. They flew the flag for a long time and have such a high standard, but circumstances change quickly in rugby league.
"It's hard to believe for some people, but once I got over that hurdle of being dropped, I thought the harder I worked, the better my chance of getting back into the Queensland team. I got my chance last year and was able to make an impact with the playing group and I've been rewarded with the captaincy.
"I'm really happy with my journey. If it hadn't have happened, I wouldn't be where I am today, proudly standing here as the Queensland captain. Everything happens for a reason and it has put me in good stead to lead this side.
"I won't let it go to waste now. I'll be leading the charge."